Sunday, September 30, 2007

September 21, 2007

I’ve been wrestling with Jesus’ words to the rich man to “sell everything you own and give it to the poor.” I’ve grown up with the mindset that this was to be a literal command from Jesus to us all, that it was an argument for simple living and equal distribution of wealth. But as I study economics more and learn about markets, economics, wealth, and poverty, I see that it not as simple as it appears to be.

Today in class we were asked whether we thought the Bible teaches completely equal distribution of wealth, or whether it supports some people being rich and some being poor. As I thought through the words of Christ (“the poor will always be with you”) and his parables (Parable of the Talents), I began to realize that it wasn’t complete equality that Christ was calling for, Christ not calling for a purely communistic system, but Christ was calling for the non-poor to give what they had to the poor. He was calling them to live lives of love and generosity that allowed others to be blessed and sustained. He challenged the rich to sell all they owned because those rich had never felt what it was like to not have, what it was like to ask, and what it was like to receive. Nevertheless, Christ was not denying that there will be rich and there will be poor.

Christ seemed to understand that human nature is still part of the equation, that we will never completely eradicate greed and selfishness. But he did seem to desire a dramatic change in the way we view money, the way we share our resources and support each other in times of need.

We, as followers of Christ and as a global community of followers of Christ, have not done this well. We have not checked where our hearts are and given all that we have to those in need around us. We have maintained the status quo, helping out here and there, giving our tithe here and there. If we truly took Christ’s words to heart I believe we would not have to sell all we have and become poor ourselves, but we would feel compelled to progressively give more to those around us, never being satisfied with how much we have given already.

What ways can you work toward giving more of your time and resources to those around you who are in need?


Mikhal Rebekah said...

did you catch what bonhoeffer had to say about that verse in the beginning of ch. 3? interesting stuff... being inwardly detached from any wealth we may have, and yet that is not enough, b/c it's not single minded obedience.

p.s. all of this multiple-posting on your blog is currently keeping me from reading the afforementioned book!

Michael said...

Good stuff. I caught that when I read that chapter and thought it was funny that I had just written about it.

Bonhoeffer has challenged me a lot in those areas of obedience and following Christ.

Glad I could help in your procrastination. :) Thanks for commenting and helping with mine.