i had several interesting comments on my recent post about the danger of wealth. fran presented an interesting hypothetical…
What if someone does give all and is willing to give all to the Lord for kingdom purposes? Have I become so affected by my culture to think that the scripture, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added unto you” means I will have all the material wealth I need or want?
there is absolutely no question that god desires to bless his people–it is in his nature. in the old testament, god lavished blessings on israel so that surrounding nations would see and acknowledge israel’s beneficient god. god rewarded his people–the ones that obeyed his statutes–with wealth and property and large families and long life. the reason god used material wealth to bless his people in the old testament, was because it was the most visible, most tangible asset available to him. according to the self-imposed limitations of his own plan, he wasn’t yet able to provide “real blessings.”
then jesus came and introduced a blessing greater than wealth: kingdom.
the old testament blessing was substandard in every way to the new testament blessing. in the mind of this writer, it is ridiculous to associate the word “blessing” with money (and the prosperity gospel has done immeasurable damage in this area). kingdom life is infinitely richer than anything temporal (including material wealth), and that’s why jesus never backed away from making audacious claims on the lives of his followers. such as:
Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. (luke 12:32-33a)
In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:33)
consider this illustration. abraham was described in scripture as being “very wealthy in livestock and silver and gold” (genesis 13:2). and this when he was still living a nomadic lifestyle! still, somehow, way deep in his spirit, abraham knew that there was “more.” he somehow discerned the superficial, temporal blessing in material wealth. paul described it like this (with commentary from me):
Each one of these people of faith died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing (and yet, they had immense material wealth). How did they do it? They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world. People who live this way make it plain that they are looking for their true home. If they were homesick for the old country, they could have gone back any time they wanted (and enjoyed a life of comfort and luxury on the earth). But they were after a far better country than that—heaven country. You can see why God is so proud of them, and has a City waiting for them. (Hebrews 11:13-16 – The Message)
the implication is clear: the kingdom life (provided in relationship with jesus) is a “far better country” than anything this world has to offer.
i think jesus is stunned by our devotion to money/possessions. frankly, i am stunned by how hard it is for me to trust jesus and walk by faith. the strategy i have chosen is “process.” i have resolved to surrender my appetites/desires/agendas to the lord on a daily basis. i find myself gradually (painfully so) dying to my plans and growing more and more hungry to be used by god.
i want the better country.