Yesterday we looked at part of Jesus’ teachings given during what we call – The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:19-34). Together we wrestled with his statement that in His new economy we are called to redefine treasuring, that we’re invited to change our investment strategy. And that our strategy will define where our hearts go, not the other way around! (v21)
Together we looked at Jesus’ juxtaposition between a good and an evil eye. Basically an eye that sees people in difficulty and acts, versus an eye that sees the bad and does nothing. The inaction may be rationalized by excuses of time and resources and in specific sick situations by blaming the people in need (v22-23).
We also struggled with his frank statement that it is impossible to serve God and money or what he called mammon (v24). Somehow we still think that we can live a balanced life in this regard. We think we can serve (thanks for the help Bob) God and money. Jesus writes a big IMPOSSIBLE on that specific quest for balance.
Then Jesus moves on and tells us startlingly that we shouldn’t worry! That he will always provide food, drink and clothing. Always. We discussed how Jesus’ thoughts up to this radical counter rhythm build the foundation for His far-reaching statement.
– A community where everyone is striving towards reprioritizing their treasures – and reinvesting it in a kingdom mindset and action.
– A community where everyone develops a ‘good eye’ [in this regard read Prov 22:9, 23:6, 28:22, Deut 15:9-11, Mark 7:21-22]. A good eye, as I said previously is someone who sees and acts on the seeing. Or as we’re fond of singing “open the eyes of my heart Lord”. It’s interesting how many of us can quote John 3:16 spontaneously, how about 1 John 3:16? Here’s what John says and note what the implications are: “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
– A community that renounces the myth of serving God and money.
– A community where everyone seeks the kingdom and his justice (right standing with God and ones fellow human beings).
Now if you’re in a community like that, not a perfect community, but a striving one – then why would you worry? If you loose your job because you’re not willing to sell your soul to the corporation then what is the worst thing that can happen to you? You’ll be fired! So what? You have a family with ever-developing good eyes. They will see and act and therefore God will provide for you through your family. BTW – we have two people who left their jobs in the last year and fell into the arms of the community. They did it in order to realign themselves with a kingdom narrative.
By now you’ll either be very excited or extremely scared. That’s ok.
Personally I find that my journey with God pushes me against the ‘holy cow’ called economics, and I know that I have to dethrone it as God. Here’s a simple question that can help us determine whether God or money is our Lord … Are you willing to sit in a total open setting with a believer or couple and discuss the minutia of your financial rhythms? This will not only be a question that tests the ‘God-factor’ in our lives but also the ‘community factor’ – because we can only share this kind of information when we’re in a relationship of trust and love (and btw this is not new stuff, the oldest full treatise we have on money in the early church, written by Clement of Alexandria proposes this exact same thing!)
I think one of the biggest problems with our interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount is how we read it devoid of community. Most of Jesus’ saying simply don’t make sense apart from a loving community or as Paul called it – the body (read: answer to most prayers) of Christ.
This is getting a bit long, so in conclusion let me share something with you that come to mind. Have you ever heard a testimony where someone testifies that they were in serious financial dire straits? They then tell how they prayed and God miraculously sent some money via a post office box, tax man, a stranger … I’ve heard a lot of these stories. They bother me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I’m glad it’s just that I cannot but feel that it’s a testimony of God having to do something to make up for our lack of being in a loving community. It testifies of the pride of not being vulnerable on the one side, and of having an individualistic evil eye on the other side.
Don’t worry be happy can only happen when we’re part of the imagined community above. Your thoughts?