Friday, October 24, 2008

What is Wealth For?

(Guest Writer - Mike Waggoner, TN)I recently read the new book by Rob Bell, Jesus Wants To Save Christians. Great book...really thought provoking. It came as a result of the front page of the Minneapolis Star stating that a certain church had just added onto their physical facility with the cost being 20.5 million dollars. On the same front page it was stated that 1 in 5 were living WAY below the poverty line. Rob asked the question..."What's wrong with this picture?" I ask the same question.

I think about the role of the church in meeting people's needs and this really being done? If you are a homeless person, the church may reach out to you, but if you are a member of a particular congregation, and have fallen on hard times, you can pretty much forget it. I have told the story of a friend who attended a LARGE and WEALTHY church who refused to help him and his family. This church's Youth Group account has $30,000.00 in it...this is just the account for the Youth! That's a buttload of pizza and soda!

The 1st Century church was truly a family. The book of Acts states that they had "all things in common...and no one lacked for anything". The church of today is quick to hoard for itself piles of "gold and silver" but this is to it's own destruction...ultimately.

Financial blessings are to be shared with those who have not...but this is the role of the church, not the government. Yes, the govt. needs to protect and serve the people, but the people are to sustain the people...and this is exactly what the church is supposed to do.

The Body of Christ has been relegated to a wheelchair. Impotent, weak and ineffective. Why? Because she hasn't functioned in the areas that her Lord had prescribed almost 2,000 years ago. Check out Matthew 25 to see His "checklist".

I grow tired and weary of seeing firsthand and hearing secondhand, the lack of compassion the churches have. The church has laid up for itself, treasure on earth, where "moth & rust corrupt" the point that it will soon be too late to apply the resources to people's needs. They will find that one day they will be able to dump their cash on the streets and no one will even notice, because it will no longer be worth anything. They will be begging to spend their wealth on someone and there will be no one who will want their help.

If we look at Biblical persons of wealth, they either used their wealth to benefit others and were blessed over again or they used it selfishly and were miserable. Abraham, David, Solomon, Barnabas on the one hand...Lot, Laban, Nabal and the very same Solomon on the other hand.

Money is meant to be a tool; a means of acquiring things to help others. Yes, it is OK to have things for yourself and to enjoy the blessings of wealth...but not at the expense of others having NOTHING. Our ultimate example is Jesus Himself. See Philippians a result of reading this SERIOUSLY, I have changed my perspective on wealth and giving, immensely.

Think about it.


Anonymous said...

This has been a huge concern of mine for quite sometime. Especially when the churches that do so go into huge debt to accomplish their new building projects.

The church my family and I attend is fairly large (about 2,000 members) but we have no debt. We have paid off our mortgage in less than 10 years, recently acquired (2) 2-million $ properties near our church campus and paid cash for them - becuase the people in the church committed to do so - these buildings are to house the expanding ministries that are under our church (such as food ministry, missions & outreach, clothing bank, prayer & restoration etc)....And, even though we have "spent" so much on these buildings, we are sending teams into the world on a weekly basis and have inner city street ministry teams every week, a benevolence ministry for those in the church, and a spirit of giving. There was a young family of 8 (mom & dad w/ 6 kids) whose father was killed in a car accident. We took seriously the biblical mandate to take care of the widows - initially the church gave her $17,000 and continues to support her family. (as well as all the other widows in our church).

There was a time when the church was giving to my family too - so I know first hand the generosity and support of the family we have.

Anonymous said...

I wanted to add...

1. What's the picture?

2. I firmly believe that if the Church acted as the Church and did what it was supposed to do (by helping those who need etc.) we would not need government programs at all.

Jonathan Merritt said...


Thanks for all the thoughtful comments. The picture is a picture of a homeless couple.

And, I agree. If the Church did its job, we wouldn't be having this conversation. That is true of many other things as well.

Jm said...

"Money is meant to be a tool.." The character defects of greed, envy, and self-centeredness jump immediately out to me like looking in a mirror. Great points. Just like the church "compares" itself to its neighbors and what new sound system or audio visual they have, I do the same in my own life with my cellphone, computer, clothes, etc. Humans make up the church, so human nature will happen, making plenty of opportunity for change, for me and the church. Its good to see I'm not that different. Thanks for the Philippians 2 shoutout - humility IS the key, especially when coupled with the spiritual principle of gratitude (God's language). Thanks for the reminder of where wealth needs to "be" my toolbox, not on my desktop.

dyscombobulated said...

Nicely written. I find myself a little confused by accusations that Barack Obama is a socialist. When those condemning him subscribe to the teachings of one who seemed to endorse selling all you have and giving to the poor.

Anonymous said...

dyscombobulated - the difference with Jesus's teaching and Obama's teaching on giving to the poor is that Jesus wants us to sell it all and give it away ourselves...not be mandated by law to give it all to the government to help they think is the poor...

Giving should be from a generous and cheerful heart - not out of the fear that we might get audited. ;)

Shane "George" Lambert said...


I've heard it said this way:

Christ's way is giving through compassion.

The socialist way is giving through compulsion.

I agree with earlier comments. If the church in America did what it was supposed to, we wouldn't need such a big government.

Jonathan Merritt said...


Good thoughts, but I want to add a dimension here. Part of this is playing the devil's advocate and part is genuine curiosity:

Why is it when it comes to moral issues like abortion or marriage, we feel justified asking the government to step in, but when it comes to other moral issues like poverty care, we play the church card?

(I think a big part of that is sheer laziness. In most cases, we only advocate the easy way out--by "easy" I mean that the solution is easy on our wallets and our calendars.)

I get the whole Church needs to step up argument. Think about this... James Madison, one of the men who helped carve out our whole federal system, said, "If people were angels, there would be no need for government."


Shane "George" Lambert said...


I think with moral issues like abortion and marriage, it isn't that we want the government to step in as much as we want the government to step out. It was the government who stepped in and redefined when life begins. It is the government that has stepped in and tried to redefine what constitutes a legal marriage.

I think Madison's quote is absolutely correct, but I also believe if the church spent more time being the church and doing what the church ought to do, there would be no need for such an expansive government.

I know; I know. I played the church card again. But I still believe it's the truth.

Anonymous said...

I may be one of a small handful of Christians who feel this way, but…

Marriage - I think the government should have no say in the matter at all. I believe that marriage is sacred and should be instituted only within the church to those who actually understand what a covenant is. If the government wants to give unions - than that's fine with me. Tax benefits, insurance benefits - these are all corporeal idioms that have very little (none in fact) eternal value and perspective. If there be a church that thinks it’s OK for a homosexual to get married than be it to the god they claim they serve to judge them – and not society or the government to issue a mandate in either way.

Abortion – I don’t want the federal government mandating at all on that matter either. Whether it’s through a “choice” act, or an “abortion is illegal” act. However, in this issue – if the church stepped up to the plate in this matter also, I truly believe we would have less of an issue. And I don’t mean the church needs to speak out against abortion – but the church needs to embrace people who have had, performed, and been through abortions as well as reach out to those who are struggling with the decision.

Marc Driscol has a great appeal to the church in this message from Mars Hill.

For all of these issues – I firmly believe that if the church would act as Jesus told us to, we would not have these issues. We are not to condemn, but to love….not the sin, but the sinner. That does not bean chastise the sinner for the sin – but in love help them out of the sin. If they need to make decisions – then, we need to help them make the right ones, in Christ’s love, while encouraging them to continue to make right choices.

I have too much to say - and don’t want to be winded in a ‘comment’…

Anonymous said...

I really agree with that last comment.

Let the church (or churches) have marriage.

Let the state have a civil/legal instrument of union. Then the state (or states if you are a 'states rights' sort) can get out of the marriage business altogether.

It is a separation of church and state argument. Which is often a good solution when religion and state cannot agree on things.