There are lots of generous wealthy people in our world. I get that.
There are lots of generous poor people too. I get that.
There are lots of practically minded people. I get that.
There are lots of non-practical philosopher types too. I get that.
But why when money rears its ugly head do we suddenly see how secular and goddless we really are?
Why is it that great riches can be a web of deceit that it blinds people to the Kingdom of God?
What kind of Church is Jesus the Head of? A Church with everything in order? All sinners purged? All accounts robust and healthy? All the building needs taken care of? The minister’s salary way beyond the minimum wage? A godly investment in mission and ministry? Clean carpets? Clean teeth? Cleen sheets? Is Jesus the Head of this kind of Church?
When will we learn that faith and damned money are diametrically opposed? Don’t misunderstand me. Godly people can be very generous and in my experience often are, but why are so many people who let others know of their wealth, so damned atheistic in their worldview? Why do these people impose a pathetically rigid, humanistic, managerial order onto something (the Church) that doesn’t funtion like that? When will Churches stop being like Corporations? When will we stop reinventing biblical faith as ‘the bottom line?’
Let me defend why faith is diametirically opposed to money. Money will divide the closest of families when there’s a sniff of money to be had. Money will tear apart loving families as people made in the image of God become animals clawing at every last damned penny like wild animals, devouring anyone who stands in their way. Money brings out the worst in people – because we’re greedy at heart. In fact, we’re idolatrous at heart, which is why Paul likens greed to idolatry (Col 3:5).
The tensions within ministry are obvious. We will always have needs and wants. Our resources will always be stretched between the maintenance and the mission of the Church. But if the Church does not recover the heart of the Gospel, of generosity, of sacrifice, of giving, then we will see churches fall prey to the zeitgeist of centralised secular bureaucracy meddaling in Church affairs with ever-increasing loopholes of complexity that we must just through, like performing religious poodles, in order to recieve our prize – the all conquering reclaimed tax! The Golden Calf of British Churches!
The Church is Gospel centred or it is nothing. Even tax reclaimed on giving in the UK is a massive mistake. Since when did churches rely on the prevailing generosity of short-term governments. When this generosity ends (and it will), we will see thousands of churches close overnight – why – because they will all have relied on the altruism of Government. This is a big mistake, and in this setting, secularism will strike a massive blow against the Church in the UK. But what we will be left with is a leaner and ‘meaner’ church. Or as I like to imagine, a Church more biblically faith-FULL.
Imagine if Abraham had insisted he knew the ram was going to be caught in the thicket. He didn’t know how or what or when God was going to provide. He just obeyed God! He stepped out in faith, even if it seemed to suggest that God wanted child-sacrifice. But Abraham was so in tune with God that he trusted – even for God to raise Isaac to life again if need be.
But imagine where his faith was at, as Isaac lie there, bound and gagged, atop a pile of fire wood, his own dad stood over him, one arm raised with a razor sharp dagger in his hand – ready to plunge into the heart of his boy. He didn’t know, but he trusted. This is the kind of faith required “to please God” as Hebrews says. This is the kind of faith we must never allow mere money to interfere with.
I want that for myself and for all God’s people. I want this kind of trusting to take place. Not driven by the bottom line but the last word. Not what we can see now, but what faith reveals in the not yet. I want us to see God and have our own stories to tell, of when God took us up on a mountain, confused but obedient, and how he brought us down, changed.