Why do people acquire more than they need?
Why do we rob our children of an inheritance, ourselves of time, and God’s people of our help by going into debt?
What do we hope our cavernous dwellings will give us, but emptiness. What can our toys offer, but distraction?
We buy what we don’t need and can’t even fully enjoy because we’ve confused wealth with excess.
Since Adam, every live birth is spiritually stillborn. We all struggle with a gnawing hunger that we fill our days, closets, and garages with attempts to satisfy. We long for life.
Not just survival. Our need for survival can be met fully and cheaply in most cases. After we’ve covered the basics, we keep acquiring because life is something more. The Bible calls this twisted craving for more, “greed.” It’s a symptom of spiritual death.
People truly live when they’re connected, fruitful, and flourishing. Adam and Eve had life before their fall. They were fed and free. They had responsibility and the authority in equal measure. They enjoyed intimacy with God and with each other. At the same time, Eve didn’t even have one nice pair of shoes and Adam had never even been to Lowes.
There’s no doubt that a lot of the financial woes many Christians face can be blamed on systemic problems in a society rigged to favor the rich. That’s always been the case. The coming of God’s kingdom will reverse the inequity of this fallen world.¹ When Jesus came preaching the coming of the kingdom, the poor flocked to him because they looked forward to a change in the system. The rich hated Christ because they benefitted from inequity.²
One time a man came to Jesus asking him to act like the Messiah and fix an injustice he was suffering:
Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12:13-15)
Jesus disappointed the man because even though he had less than his brother, he was equally driven by greed.
We look around at this broken world and we cry, “Maranatha!”³ but we forget that we’re the problem. Equity won’t satisfy souls hungry for life. Christ didn’t come the first time as a judge or arbiter. That would have been a fools errand since nobody really wants equity. If they did, everyone in America would liquidate all of their assets and send the money to the developing world. Christ came to solve our money problems at their source.
As he said of his own coming, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10b NIV)
Christ gives life. If we have life, we’ll stop acquiring more than we need.
How does he give us life? Read a little farther down in John 10 to find:
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. (John 10:14-15)
The life he gives is his own.
How do we accept his offer?
Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. (John 12:25-26)
Christ offers a life for a life and requires a life for a life. We must turn 180 degrees from our constant preoccupation with this worlds pleasures, possessions and problems to fill our whole attention with Christ. That’s the life!
- The theme of the Great Reversal is throughout Scripture. As examples consider the songs of praise by Hannah in 1 Samuel 2 and Mary in Luke 1.
- “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.”The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight. (Luke 16:13-15 NIV)
- An Aramaic expletive meaning, “O, Lord come!”