Please forgive me if a wax a bit too liberal here for my conserv- ative and evangelical friends out there, but when His followers asked Jesus to teach them to pray, He didn’t say, “Give us this day, everything that we want which is more than our fair share of Your resources.” He said, “Give us this day, our daily bread.” Now, without reading anything into this passage from His sermon on the mount (Matthew 6: 9-15), I take Jesus’ meaning to be give us only what we need. He went on to pray, “And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors,” although modern translations such as the NIV substitute the words, “sins,” or “trespasses,” for debts. It seems that in our materialistic societies of today, it is easier for us to think in terms of forgiving someone else’s sins than it is his debts. Afterall, debt implies money, and money is about business and about our day-to-day living, and we can’t be letting the Word interfer with our here-and-now lives, now can we? Sin? Hmmm… now that’s more difficult to quantify. But we can forgive it so long as it doesn’t touch us. Sin against me and I may forgive you, but only after I’ve had my revenge.
I got to thinking about all this after my wife’s Sunday School lesson today. It was based on the most recent cover article appearing in TIME magazine, “Does God Want You to Be Rich?” Interesting question. According to the article, this is the central theme of some of today’s mega-churches such as The Potter’s House here in South Dallas. The theology attracting many to these more evangelical, non-denominational places of worship, Prosperity Theology, is based on an interpretation of John’s gospel (10: 10), “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” Now, be honest, do you really think that the abundance Jesus was talking about is “material” abundance? Nah… I didn’t think so.
For me, the story of the rich young man in Mark’s gospel (10: 24-26) is answer enough to the question, “does God want us to be rich.” After his encounter with the rich young man, Jesus explained to his disciples, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Some argue in response to this, “But this is about where one places his priorities in life, not about how much one posesses.”
Hogwash, says I. Matthew 6:24 says that no man can serve two masters. “You cannot serve both God and worldly riches (mammon).” So, Does God want us to be rich? Sure He does… He wants us to be spiritually rich.
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