I’ve been preaching a short mini-series on Money (1/12/14) called “Moneyisms; Balanced Theologies on Money.” It is the first “money talk” I’ve given in my pastoral career, and I’ve been filled w/ fear and trepidation in the preparation of it. Actually not. It’s kinda fun. And hugely powerful, because all of my (short, but growing) preaching career I have felt the limits of the pulpit; that tinkering with words does not necessarily result in the overhaul of human hearts. But with money I feel like I have struck a nerve; that there’s a reason why people get up and walk out in the middle of money sermons and this is simply because people don’t like it when you got somebody messin’ with your junk.
I mean, after all, what is money except virtual?
Green ink printed on paper? Representational value?
It is not the thing itself that causes so much anxiety; it is the thing behind the thing, that is to say: promised security, riches in materialism, that elusive happiness… THAT’S the junk we don’t want no one messin’ with. Our ideals of security. Our fears. Our INsecurities. Don’t touch that pastor. Leave me alone.
And that’s where discipleship begins. When we touch the very thing that makes you afraid and teach you to fear not, that God is stronger than the Green Monster, that Trust wins over Insecurity, that Faith beats out Anxiety any day, and that the LORD from whom ALL blessings flow, continues to watch over and care over his faithfill.
So we give the money talk not because we need a new roof, or want to run a new campaign, or start a new strategic initiative… (OK sometimes there is that too) – but once the Hoop! begins we get impassioned because at ground level we know this is really not about the church (upkeep) – it is about each of your hearts in the congregation – that if we really are about discipleship in the church, this is one of those places where the rubber meets the road.
We’re operating on people’s lives, excising not dollars, but selfishness; tackling tumors of insecurity, fear, anxiety, mistrust, suspicion, Machiavellianism, greed, hoarding, faithlessness, and a host of other ailments. If you ask me, money itself is not inherently evil; rather it is a transconductor – an AMPLIFIER of already-present evils (or virtues!) – that pre-existing faithlessness gets amplified by money into paranoia, miserliness, and hoarding – just look up the Wendel family story of NYC, c. 1800’s. Money turns wounded people into monsters. But it also turns those who dare to trust into the Faithful / Faith-filled.
So here below, I list 4 “Moneyisms” I expounded, Balanced Theologies on Money amidst the glut of passages which present varying views (at times contrasting) on it:
1. Money is not evil, BUT the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. (Deut 28:9-13, 1 Timothy 6:6-10) It’s an amplifier, a transconductor of what is already within our hearts.
2. Saving money is a good practice, BUT money doesn’t grant perfect security. (Gen 41:35-36, Matt 6:19-21) Stock Market Crash. Housing bubble. Our times are really in His hands…
3. God certainly favors the poor, BUT he is not necessarily against the rich. (Luke 6:20-25, 19:2-9) Hardest one for me to grasp; the NT is full of such strong social polemic against the rich (amidst a very specific social context), but at the same time, the OT conveys such a prevalent theology of covenantal blessing extending to material wealth.
4. God wants you to prosper, BUT He prospers you to bless others. (Luke 16:19-25, Gen 12:1-3) Rail on prosperity theology all you want. Chances are, you may be an upwardly-mobile seminarian criticizing a poor man’s theology while you are sipping your $4 grande latte. Lighten up; why wouldn’t God want us to prosper?