Jesus & “Your Money” Q&A Part 1
Often on Sunday nights at CCK we take some time at the end of the meeting to answer questions sent in via text message. We did this a few weeks back after my preach ‘Jesus and Your Money’ but due to time we weren’t able to answer all the questions on the night, we said we’d put some answers online so here they are.
Q. Should we give out of guilt?
A. No! The Christian gives out of an assurance that 1) Everything belongs to God anyway and 2) That God has shown the great extent of His love for them in giving His son. As Paul says in Romans 8:32 “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” – if we understand this and hold it to be true, it must surely follow that we can no longer give out of a sense of guilt.
Q. Is it spiritually worthwhile to pursue a career in which you can progress thru a hierarchy to gain increased wealth and influence to re-inject your earnings back into church and its projects while encouraging your colleagues if you are in a position to do so? Or would it be better to take a job that allows more opportunity to become more involved with the projects personally? Or are both stances equally spiritually rewarding and good uses of our giftings?
A. It is possible to pursue either of these courses with integrity, equally it is possible to pursue either and be entirely fruitless. What is in question is the state of your heart: If a thing is done to the glory of God, it is worship and therefore acceptable. If it is done with purely self in view, in an attempt to justify oneself by gaining merit / appeasing guilt etc. it is a dead work. A Christian can bring great glory to God in either of the ways mentioned in the question but only if His glory and fame are the desire of their heart.
Q. Is there merit in the saying that being on the edge financially keeps you more reliant and trusting on God?
A. As with the question above, it is quite possible for this situation to go either way: If the individual in question has a right assessment of who God is, and so fears and honours Him, they will find that they approach impending poverty with faith and hope. For those without this perspective, they might well panic and fear the situation. 1 John 4:18 tells us “Perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.” Therefore, the true deciding factor in reliance on God is whether or not one truly knows God as a loving Father. Whether or not this person is ‘on the edge financially’ is incidental.
Q. Is not the current system of money itself evil, as well as the love of money, in that it requires perpetual debt? Should we be partaking in a resource based economy instead, is this not what both Jesus and Paul advocated anyway?
A. Earthly governments are always a mixture, therefore we have a tension: On the one hand, we read in Romans 13:1 “there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God”. On the other hand, several verses later in Romans 13:8, we read “Owe no one anything”. This leaves those in our situation with a problem: How do we submit to the authorities in a ‘debt’ culture? It would certainly involve not participating in the aspects of the culture that were counter to the Faith – in this case living on credit. The underlying principle to be observed is: Live in a godly way within the time and place and under the authorities that God has placed you. This does not mean that where things are unjust and ungodly we do not pray consistently and seek peaceful reform. On the second question: One could probably cite Scripture in various creative ways (and many have,) to suggest that Jesus and Paul advocated one particular mode of government or economy but this would involve reading into the text.
Q. If we invest in God’s church here in CCK, do you think this city will change?
A. In a word: YES! Our vision is to be ‘in Brighton, for Brighton’. In writing to the exiles, Jeremiah advised them “Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (Jeremiah 29:7) We feel a similar mandate on us for Brighton. By giving to CCK, we are giving to an initiative that will effect permanent positive change, as the peace and prosperity of Brighton and Hove are placed high on the agenda.