Thursday, January 19, 2012

MONEY! Are You Nervous Yet?

Matthew 6:19 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

There is an article on the Huffington Post website today about the salaries of mega-church pastors.  To be fair, the pastors mentioned are not only from mega-churches, but a good bit of their congregation members - some would say most - are actually tv or internet viewers.  These pastors are more than local, community pastors.  They have a national or world-wide following.  So casting the pastor of a 2,500 member Presbyterian church in a large metro area in the same light as these celebrity pastors is not exactly fair. 

Still, this raises the issue of how Christians, not just pastors, should handle their finances.  John Wesley, the founder of Methodism used to say (and this is a paraphrase), "Make all you can, Save all you can.  Give all you can."  I know that some may be looking for that fourth admonition, "spend all you can," but it's not in there.  Still a lot of us have replaced the last of Wesley's charges with the one on spending.  

Wesley might have said "Give all you can and spend what is necessary in order to meet your needs."  Again, many in our culture, even among believers seem to want to turn this into, "Spend all you can to establish and maintain an image sufficient to satisfy your desires and fulfill your ego, and give only what is necessary to assuage your guilt."  In case you missed it, pastors like me do the same thing.  I'm not throwing stones at anyone here.  I have been guilty of this too, and in some embarrassing ways, I still am.  But I am committed to change. 

The truth is, and Jesus taught this, if you think you know what life is and you try to grasp it, you will lose the abundant life God created you  to live.  But if you let go of the life you imagine will satisfy to embrace the way of Jesus - a life of grace and surrender and open-handed, joyful living, then your life will be marked by a constant flow of the Spirit that will bring a kind of prosperity that money could never buy. 

May you and I surrender our desires to manage our images and satisfy our egos through the wrong kind of prosperity.  May we instead be rich in grace, joy, mercy, compassion, generosity and courage.  May we be able to make all we can, save all we can, and give all we can, and then actually do it.  And may we daily follow more and more in the way of Jesus.  

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