If money is an issue in western Christendom, then it is a heart issue. It would be best for us to seek Christ, learn His will for us in this area, obey, and move on.
As we pursue reconciliation in our money management, Christ will give us something more satisfying than weekly, religious numbing. He takes us as we are, walks alongside us and makes us into His own heavenly creations.
Christ's general conclusion about money is: Don't worry about it. Obey God right now and don't worry about it. The less we worry about material wealth, the more our hearts will be aligned with Christ and His big picture.
As for you, Christ-seeker, whether or not you attend church regularly, don't be discouraged by the well-meaning speaker from some third world country, who harps on the superiority of financial lowliness and the shamefulness of having stuff. By the time American churchgoers graduate high school, they have lost track of the times church speakers have used American affluence to try and shame them into action. How useless. Such guilt-tripping tactics rarely lead to diligent, Christ-seeking obedience.
A commonly-quoted statistic is that about 99.999% of the wealth is possessed by Americans, who make up approximately 0.002% of a world population of sixty-eight-bazillion. Yes even you, the student, or you, the struggling lower-middle-class person, even though it feels like you are struggling, you are actually living like a king (or queen) compared to the impoverished rest of the world. Most people's reaction at this point is to feel overwhelmed by the suspicion that there is nothing you can do and therefore you go ahead and do nothing.
Toward the end of a missionary or church speaker's message, his audience is riveted to every word he is saying. Each of his listeners sits immersed in the profundity of his experiences abroad, staring in silent awe of the elite, spiritual world to which this missionary or Christian speaker has access. I might think to myself, "Wow, this guy really knows his stuff, I can't wait to hear what to do next..." And his conclusion would be that we, his affluent American audience, should do the only thing we can do: Give him (or his agency) money... oh yeah, and maybe pray. Of course he would mention prayer first, as a general rule. But it is a rare kind of missionary who spends much time organizing prayer meetings during his or her stateside visits.
A person needs a heavy dose of mental and spiritual sedation in order to accept the monetary requests of missionaries and pastors who just finished a sermon explaining why people should feel bad for possessing money. This is one of many clues that points toward an underlying lack of reconciliation within the western church, especially in regards to such headlining issues as "why you should tithe," "supporting missions," and "good Christian money management."
Dismissal seems like the most logical reaction to this whirlwind of contradiction and confusion.
In spite of and because of everything, free-thinking Christ-seekers must decide once and for all whether they want anything to do with Christ. As for seekers who live within western culture, let them be convinced in the Lord whether or not the summation of their spiritual gifting is their unique ability to fill out checks accurately and with good timing. Can any follower of Christ have such an un-spiritual role in His Spirit-based kingdom? Can there be such a thing as spiritual delinquents who are still Christ-followers?
Westerners have more repentance to do than is conceivable to our human minds, I'm sure. But then again Christ's goal for His church is that every member should be useful in some Spirit-based capacity, no matter what kind of obstacles they still have to overcome in His name.
However, the mediocrity of worldly wealth seems to follow westerners like a shadow of spiritual oppression. But then again, all humanity is equally, hopelessly lost without Christ. Apart from the conquering power of Christ, every person in the world is equally enslaved to sin, no matter what their particular sin preference.
As for us westerners, it remains for us to humble ourselves and view our love of wealth as a sinful obstruction, which is just as conquerable as every other sin that Christ is in the business of annihilating. We give ourselves too much credit by esteeming our sin beyond the reach of God's grace. But rather, it is our business as Christ-followers to seek after holiness and humility to the point that we are completely dead to ourselves and living only so far as Christ lives in us.
In other words, our spiritual business will be successful to the extent that we buy into Christ rather than any deception that leads us to focus on ourselves.
by Patrick Roberts
This is an excerpt from To the Church of the West, Scattered Throughout the World. Find this book and similar articles at www.BooksByPatrick.com
Patrick is an average Christ-seeker. His goal is to turn people to Jesus Christ.