Category Archives: Religion and Politics

Jesus On Money

A systematic study on an idea in Scripture, or in a part of Scripture, can help to develop one’s theology accurately on that idea. We make assumptions about truth on our own, often based in things we were taught while we were young. Seeing what the Bible actually says typically gives these outcomes:

  1. The Bible teaches something I didn’t realize that it taught.
  2. The Bible never says something that I thought it said.
  3. Or, the Bible says exactly what I thought it did, (this one is exceptionally rare).

With this in mind, I studies Jesus’ teachings on money and watched for themes. He says more on this one topic than almost any other one subject he speaks on. Here were my conclusions and supports.

  1. Wealth (in itself, as something to seek and hold) is unimportant.
  • [Mat 6:19-21, 24 NIV] 19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. … 24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
  • [Luk 12:33-34 NIV] 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Our earthly wealth will disappear and is unreliable. By contrast, there is a heavenly wealth that is only loosely defined. Eternal life, godly love, and grace are in store for us. Giving these gifts to others should be our highest priority.

Money is not good by itself (intrinsically). It is only good if we use it to serve God. The desire for money can corrupt, yet money can be used for good. When one compares this with my prior post, they will see that I am saying to attribute value to those things that are eternal. Our service to God, in which we may use wealth wisely, is what has true importance.

CaptureOur heavenly treasures will never disappear. God protects them from any harm. Our money should not be the most important thing in our lives. You can’t take anything with you when you die.

2. A focus on wealth can destroy what is important.

  • [Luk 6:24-26 NIV] 24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. 25 Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. 26 Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.

Earthly riches can ultimately cause harm. A focus on them can prevent us from caring for others. Do we look at our spending and see were the extra money goes when we have it. Do we spend more on ourselves or look for ways to give to others?

  • [Mat 19:21-24 NIV] 21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. 23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
  • [Mark 10:21-22 NIV] 21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

The rich are accustomed to getting what they want. It is difficult for them to give up on money if it is an impediment to their salvation. When money becomes more important to us than God is, then we are no longer serving God.

3. Wealth is used best when it is given away.

  • [Luk 16:9-10 NIV] 9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. 10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.

Capture

Use your money to serve God’s purposes. Using money to serve yourself will only bring you into eternal ruin. You put your money where you attribute value. Relationships are the only thing on this earth that are eternal. Use your income to build connections that will last.

You cannot serve both money and God. Money must serve you as you serve God.

  • [Luk 21:1-4 NIV] 1 As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3 “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

Giving all you have is more important than giving a large quantity. How do we know if we are giving enough? C.S. Lewis – I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare…If our charities [the money we give] do not at all pinch or hamper us [slow us down],… they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditures excludes them.

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What is money?

What is money at its core? Money is wealth, and it is earned by the perceived creation of wealth.

Let that soak in. When I am paid, it is because I have done, created, organized, or developed something in such away that another person identified it as valuable.

When I teach or tutor, I am reorganizing information or presenting new information in such a way that someone else is finally able to understand it. For that, they pay my employer money. My employer then uses some funding to keep up it’s software and servers (as I tutor online) and then provides some of that income to me directly for my work. I continue to work for them, rather than merely tutoring in person for cash only, because of the stability, safety, anonymity, and flexibility that online tutoring provides. Therefore, I am willing to give up a portion of the possible wealth for the minimized risk.

Risk is worth money. Inversely, it is worth paying someone money who can minimize your risk.

Thus, my primary gig as an insurance claims representative serves to minimize risk. You pay for insurance so that you do not have to bear the financial risk of the loss or of the liability you create for yourself. Rather than waiting until I’ve saved up $300,000 and put it into savings before I drive for the first time, I can take out an insurance policy for a much smaller monthly rate, and still have $300,000 in liability protection (and whatever other 1st party coverages I select). In the end, everyone pays more than if we just sat on cash until we had an accident, because on the average, most people don’t make claims on their insurance. When you pay for insurance, you pay for your future claims and for the people that service them. (About 70-85% of auto premiums actually go to payment of claims.)

Can you imagine directly arguing with an injured person how much money they deserve for the injury you caused them? To most of us, it is worth paying a monthly fee to outsource that sort of conflict to a knowledgeable third party. (Who has two thumbs and is a knowledgeable third party? This guy!)

My wife is a bank teller. Oddly, it is the same job I have. She holds your money to keep it safe until you need it. For that, she gets some of your money (which comes from interest paid on lending).

We create wealth and we don’t even manufacture objects. We reorganize information, sit on piles of money, and provide it to customers when the rules (that the customer signs off on) dictate that they are allowed access to it. For that service, the customer pays us a fee, which allows us to feed our family and pay interest on our debt so that some other banker can also earn an income.

When I was in retail sales, customers were paying, not only for the product, but for my ability to point it out to them. They were also paying me for my availability, in other words, for the time when no customers were in the store, just so that I would be there when they wanted to shop. This is why online shopping is so much cheaper on the average, as we do not need as many humans to keep the inventory secure and to answer our questions.

When people are sad about the existence of self-checkout lines, they see the cashier as providing a service of value to them. When they like the self-checkout line, they don’t see the actions of the cashier as worth the effort of waiting in line and paying slightly more (on average) for their services. (I notice that the people who are sad about self-checkout lines did not use valet parking when they arrived at the store; nor are they using full-service gas pumps.)

Money is a perception of wealth, and we give it to those who are perceived as creating value.


God’s action in an evil world

I had the privilege of worshiping the Lord in music and in thought this morning. After an important message on the psychology and spiritual background to the evil actions of mankind from Dr. Ryan Darrow, I had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion that dealt with the following:

  1. What is evil?
  2. Where does evil come from?
  3. Can we be rescued from evil?
  4. Where is God when evil happens?
  5. What is God doing in this calamitous season?

View the service here: https://venue.streamspot.com/video/f99d9d4618

Please comment below with any questions you wish we would have addressed or any responses of your own. I’d love to sort through these questions together here.


A fascinating speech on religious left politics

Here is a selection of quotes from a speech given by a somewhat famous public speaker. I think it would be fun to get through all the quotes before seeing who said them.

Today I’d like to talk about the connection between religion and politics and perhaps offer some thoughts about how we can sort through some of the often bitter arguments that we’ve been seeing over the last several years.

I do so because, as you all know, we can affirm the importance of poverty in the Bible…

[People are saying, he’s] a Christian … and yet he supports a lifestyle that the Bible calls an abomination. … says he’s a Christian, but supports the destruction of innocent and sacred life.

…At worst, there are some liberals who dismiss religion in the public square as inherently irrational or intolerant, insisting on a caricature of religious Americans that paints them as fanatical, or thinking that the very word “Christian” describes one’s political opponents, not people of faith.

…I think we make a mistake when we fail to acknowledge the power of faith in people’s lives — in the lives of the American people — and I think it’s time that we join a serious debate about how to reconcile faith with our modern, pluralistic democracy.

..I was able to see faith as more than just a comfort to the weary or a hedge against death, but rather as an active, palpable agent in the world. As a source of hope. … Faith doesn’t mean that you don’t have doubts.

You need to come to church in the first place precisely because you are first of this world, not apart from it. You need to embrace Christ precisely because you have sins to wash away – because you are human and need an ally in this difficult journey.

It was because of these newfound understandings that I was finally able to walk down the aisle …one day and affirm my Christian faith. It came about as a choice, and not an epiphany. I didn’t fall out in church. The questions I had didn’t magically disappear. But kneeling beneath that cross …I felt that I heard God’s spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to His will, and dedicated myself to discovering His truth.

…Some of the problem here is rhetorical – if we scrub language of all religious content, we forfeit the imagery and terminology through which millions of Americans understand both their personal morality and social justice.

Imagine Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address without reference to “the judgments of the Lord.” Or King’s I Have a Dream speech without references to “all of God’s children.”

…Our failure as progressives to tap into the moral underpinnings of the nation is not just rhetorical, though. Our fear of getting “preachy” may also lead us to discount the role that values and culture play in some of our most urgent social problems.

After all, the problems of poverty and racism, the uninsured and the unemployed, are not simply technical problems in search of the perfect ten point plan. They are rooted in both societal indifference and individual callousness – in the imperfections of man.

Solving these problems will require changes in government policy, but it will also require changes in hearts and a change in minds. I believe in keeping guns out of our inner cities, and that our leaders must say so in the face of the gun manufacturers’ lobby – but I also believe that when a gang-banger shoots indiscriminately into a crowd because he feels somebody disrespected him, we’ve got a moral problem. There’s a hole in that young man’s heart – a hole that the government alone cannot fix.

…Frederick Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, Williams Jennings Bryant, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King – indeed, the majority of great reformers in American history – were not only motivated by faith, but repeatedly used religious language to argue for their cause. So to say that men and women should not inject their “personal morality” into public policy debates is a practical absurdity. Our law is by definition a codification of morality, much of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition.

… during our founding, it wasn’t the atheists or the civil libertarians who were the most effective champions of the First Amendment. It was the persecuted minorities, it was Baptists like John Leland who didn’t want the established churches to impose their views on folks who were getting happy out in the fields and teaching the scripture to slaves. It was the forbearers of the evangelicals who were the most adamant about not mingling government with religious, because they did not want state-sponsored religion hindering their ability to practice their faith as they understood it.

Moreover, given the increasing diversity of America’s population, the dangers of sectarianism have never been greater. Whatever we once were, we are no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.

And even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools? Would we go with James Dobson’s, or Al Sharpton’s? Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? … So before we get carried away, let’s read our bibles. Folks haven’t been reading their bibles.

This brings me to my second point. Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. … I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all.

…Politics…involves the compromise, the art of what’s possible….religion does not allow for compromise. It’s the art of the impossible.

… If God has spoken, then followers are expected to live up to God’s edicts, regardless of the consequences. To base one’s life on such uncompromising commitments may be sublime, but to base our policy making on such commitments would be a dangerous thing.

…Having voluntary student prayer groups use school property to meet should not be a threat, any more than its use by the High School Republicans should threaten Democrats.

…It’s a prayer I think I share with a lot of Americans. A hope that we can live with one another in a way that reconciles the beliefs of each with the good of all. It’s a prayer worth praying, and a conversation worth having in this country in the months and years to come.

–Barack Obama, June 28, 2006

http://www.obamaspeeches.com/081-Call-to-Renewal-Keynote-Address-Obama-Speech.htm