Christianity – What’s Money Got To Do With It?

“The Kingdom of God doesn’t mean the “haves” should be forced into handing over what they have (although in death everyone will hand over everything) and give it to the “have-not”s. It means they should not put their trust in their riches.” (BB)

“Historically speaking, the best any government has ever been able to do at creating prosperity is to allow the individuals who work and entrepreneur to be rewarded by the free market and those who don’t to suffer…Historically speaking the poor are best served by the free market. Anyone who tells you different simply envies the rich…”(BB)

“Statistically speaking a person who does only 3 things is virtually guaranteed of staying out of poverty: 1) Get a job, any job 2) Don’t fornicate/commit adultery 3) Graduate from highschool” (BB)

“We will always have the poor to give to (through what Paul calls, “The most excellent way”, that is, charity), but not everyone has Jesus. No government program or redistribution of wealth can bring people to know Jesus. In poverty there is suffering, but without Jesus, life is simply not worth living. And that is why giving money for people to know Jesus is better spent than money on government hand-outs.” (BB)

The question of money is dealt with quite extensively in the gospels, and in some of the letters. My questions about money are quite simple:

Can we be rich? Should we be rich? Is this a blessing from God?
Do we have to give? If so, how much and to what?
What do we use ‘money given to God’ for?
Is addressing issues of poverty a biblical imperative?
Does the church have a double standard concerning money?
Do politics of the nation represent Christ’s original vision regarding money?
Is responsibility of your wealth even an issue in the bible?

Just questioning the ideas about money – I have heard a lot of conflicting idealogies about the correct Christian stance in my lifetime – if I had to live by one biblical model – what should that be? Someone please show me -I am totally confused.

Is This What Jesus Taught? Show me where.

I just watched a documentary on the Evangelical church in the USA. Can’t say I was exactly estatic for the faith after seeing the show – and some of the absolute mis-nomers I seen being taught and thought – as the true teachings of Jesus.

(1) Jesus’ name: There was a variety of different methods being used to push the gospel and get conversions – and all of them stake their claim in Jesus and his teachings. They must have shown about 10 various ministries and all of them more unique than the last (a comedian, rodeo, wrestling, creationists, protests, poltical agenda’s, putting up $25,000 crosses, huge rallies, a car show, skateboarders, etc). It got me thinking – how much of this is actually in the gospel message? If you look closely – not a single one of these ideas came from the original message.

(2) Politics: Why are Christians so ‘hell-bent’ on joining this faith with politics and spouting useless rhetoric like ‘let’s take this country back for God’? People like Falwell, Dobson, and others think this is one of the core mandates of the faith – heck, the Evangelical union helps to register all their congregants (and supplies them with the platform of the candidates according to what they label ‘Christian Values’). There is a very strong tie between Evangelicals and politics – and I am left speechless on the issue.

All I ask is one simple thing – show me where the gospels or the letters back this idea – and I will follow suit. It seems to me this an addition by the Evangelical church into the faith – as a direction – more than it is from the gospels/letters. The teachings seem to point more to working with people in a supportive level – locally and personally – than about swaying political agenda’s. Why mix your faith with Capitalism? – When the faith is more communal in nature. If politics was the answer I think the gospels would of mentioned that – however – they do not. I have to side with the teachings – and the teachings seem to proport the idea of acceptance, invitation, working as a support system, and working on behalf of one another – in such a way as to help those depleted and drained in society from the prisoner to the poverty stricken.

(3) Money: I couldn’t believe the amount of money being spent by the Evangelical’s on petty and useless things – like rallies, crosses, protests, cars, buildings, etc. I mean some of those political agenda’s and rallies were costing a pretty penny (one event even had fireworks). They booked the finest stadiums, had the finest press releases, and got some of the best entertainment – all of this adding up into the hundreds of thousands of dollars – dare I say, millions?

Simple question – where is this type of monetary extravagance in the teachings of Jesus? Show me and I will also donate to these ‘worthwhile causes’? I can’t find this type of teaching anywhere in the gospels – but it’s very prevalant in the Capitalist manifesto’s. So who’s fooling who here? All the teachings of Jesus seem to reflect that money is not what we want to gain in this life (nevermind churches storing it up for these big events) – but life is more important than money. Why isn’t this money being spent on worthwhile programs for people depressed, drug addicted, poverty stricken, disabled, elderly, etc…I mean, that’s life right there. Isn’t the biblical teaching about investment in other people and not about ourselves (or our agenda’s)?

(4) Salvation: The whole ordeal of this money spending and variety of gospel messages was about one simple thing – conversion or change. I am all for the salvation of the individual but I think the church is missing the mark here – these ‘one night stand’ conversion events. Isn’t our version of salvation a little deeper than that or more sacred than a ‘simple prayer’? Where is this version of salvation in the gospels? I mean people got ‘saved’ but the communities were a lot smaller – and if I am correct – in Acts they shared all they had with one another – they took care of each other (again – a support group). To me, conversion is a process and it takes time to create a whole new paradigm for life – do these big events provide that kind fo attention to detail?

(5) Acceptance: Mel White, a former ghost-writer for Jerry Falwell, was on the video also. He talked about his ‘coming out of the closet’ and how he still attends Jerry Falwell’s church – even though he is banned. He wants to know what they are saying and what their next political campaign against him is. I watched that in absolute horror and dismay – this attitude of self-righteousness and bitter hatred – where is this in the gospels? I saw Mel crying in the crowd, a man that loves his faith, and I couldn’t help but well up also – they treat this guy like he’s already dead. I just imagine that Mel see’s the same thing I do – crying for the people that are so hard-hearted they can’t even stop to pretend to care about people un-like themselves.

I commented after I seen the show ‘I wonder if Jesus was to walk into one of their services if they’d even recognize him?’. Then I realized ‘whatever you do unto the least of these (my brothers), you have done it unto me’.

I’d gladly shake Mel’s hand and invite him in to any place I went. I’d gladly take my money and donate it to people in society that are struggling. I’d gladly lay my life down to see another human have as much chance to succeed as I did. But I won’t lay my life down for a system that rejects ‘the least of these’ and does so with justification that can only be explained as additions to the teachings of Christ. I ain’t no skeptic – I’m just saying ‘show me where’?

What is sin and How do we know?

“If God no longer holds our sins against us, then what is sin?” (Bruced)

“The question is “then why sin?” Why embrace a thing that is not godly once you have received the grace of God?” (JJ)

“Who here has no sin?…According to God, sin no longer exists. Certainly, there are things we will do that harm ourselves and/or others, but the penalty for that is of this world, not of God. He only sees Jesus when he looks at His creation. Jesus covered it all, and made it all new, fresh, and clean in God’s eyes…Causing harm to ourselves or others might be stupid and painful, but it has no effect on God’s view of us. Through Jesus, we are righteous to God, fully redeemed and fully forgiven forever…Sadly, not even the christians believe that.” (Bruced)

That age old question of ‘sin’. I have my opinions on it but what do you think? How do you define ‘sin’? Does the standard change with time? Is ‘sin’ something that has been ‘finished’? Tell me, what are yout thoughts about that word ‘sin’?

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

“”I think we need to view scriptures in the light of God’s true character which is love!” (The Ledge)

“Spiritual love is serious. To say that God’s love means He is OK with whatever choices we make is to overstep the quality of love entirely.” (BB)

“Love is not indifferent to living righteously. Love is the fulfilment of all righteousness. And “tolerance” (that is, the practice of stomaching the indecent practices of others) is not a virtue, but a necessary evil. Mercy, on the other hand, (the practice of forgiving someone for what is acknowledged to be evil) is a virtue. ” (BB)

“I read about Jesus and I see him embracing people within those sins – drunks, prostitutes, and thieves (that should be a song Chris). Top that off and Jesus broke cultural barriers in relations with Samaritans and Romans – and also broke Jewish laws (including the sabbath and touching lepers). It seems to me Jesus looked through religion and saw the hope of these people – and simply loved them. He loved them without a real good social reason to do so – even for his times. But if we are gonna question the nature of love then we have to question Jesus’ love in that also – he seemed to not make rules within which his love existed or would exist” (Svs)

What is the definition of biblical love? Are there a set of rules that set out a guideline for the basis of our love to others? Can our love be limited? Just what is this love that Jesus spoke about?

Homosexuality – What should be our response?

I was having a normal day then a few comments came my way that deserve their own post – and honest discussion. Check these out and let me know – what’s the best route here as it concerns our faith?

“Christians don’t have any right to protest against homosexuality or any secular topic” Scratch that and replace with;”Christians don’t have any right to protest against homosexuals or other political agendas”. Note; I can believe something that you don’t without judging you.” (BK)

“Would you agree that the Bible says homosexuality is a great evil?” (BB)

“I would disagree with this assumption as ‘a great evil’ (what does ‘great’ mean exactly?)” (Svs)

This was a highlight of some of the threads from a previous post – so what do you think – what is our best route (or even correct route) as Christians? Oh yeah – the homosexuality issue – bound to push a few buttons – but we need some honest and frank discussion on this issue.

Living – Dying – Both – Why Not?

I was thinking about a biblical concept for quite some time, mainly because a self-professed atheist said it makes no sense (or lacked rational). I thought ‘wait…I am a very rational person and do things to make lives better and I hold that belief’ – so I decided to take a closer look at it. Just maybe I was wrong – I mean – who knows until they examine the ideal.

‘Your living to die and dying to live’…this is a biblical ideal (what!). It’s the whole ‘losing your life to live’ ideal taught by Jesus. This was taught to me as such a stupid belief that lacks any real sense – and I was like ‘cha’. It makes all the sense in the world and dare I say it – we all live like this – it’s just what do we focus (put perspective) upon.

I figure we are all living (for something) towards a goal based on our perspective of life. We know this is true because as we read this we can breath, take a drink, have a smoke, well – anything you want. But we are also all dying – day by day we lose one more day – it becomes the past and there is no ‘turning back’ from the inevitable (the day of our demise). The cup is half full and half empty – and this again – is perspective – and I am more a ‘live-r’ than a ‘dyer’ – but aren’t we all?

But my point is this: we are living and dying for the same perspective we hold on our life. If someone says ‘I live for this moment’ – they also mean ‘I’d die for this moment’ – and some do. So…the way one lives is also the way one dies.

So it makes all the sense in the world for Jesus to ask us to give our lives for the cause – since we are going to do it anyways – for this cause, for that cause, or for no cause – our living and dying is part of that process (by our mere acceptance of the cause). So I live for Christ and I believe all these values from the teachings – or I ‘live in them’ – and I also ‘die in them’ – for my life is not removed from the process by the cause – actually the cause becomes a part of me.

So whether I live or die – I was doing what I believed and what my perspective was. Not to say all good people won’t be shot or murdered – they might – but they lived for their cause – and they also died in that same cause. Not saying the good people won’t die by old-age – they might – but either way they lived their cause and died for it too. Living life means you hold a perspective and whether you realize it or not – you’re also dying for it (day by day passes and you hold the same view until finally the next day just stops coming).

Final point, consider the case of a murder – person murders a person – he in turn gets killed as an act of revenge – the person dies for what they believe (that the one person should die – so they sow something that comes back to them). It’s the same for the good, the bad, and the ugly – we all have brains and perspectives and we all live in those ideals – and then we eventually pass away – but those ideals define our lives (and sometimes our deaths). So you are living to die for something – we all are – and that’s the circle of life.

I Learned Something Today…

I have done some thinking these last few days about the faith that I love – and I have done a lot of reading and blogging in that time. I have come to the most absurd conclusions ever (on this blog anyways) – and I am not sure why this is.

I have become way too liberal in my thinking – in some senses of that word – and I have to turn around and be more grounded (or level-headed). I found I was fighting against the ‘churched-folk’ or the ‘evangelical right wingers’ (on the basis of a few good things) but I noticed I was shutting those people out – and treating them in a way that wasn’t fair – I was being hypocritical (in some sense) and I should of been more open. I found out they ‘aren’t the enemy’ although some may be ‘close-minded’, they are people that need to be enlightened as much as any of us have been.

I noticed that a lot of times we want to ‘bash their evangelical heads against the rocks’ (and there is a time and place for this imagery) but we need to start seeing them as we were – as mis-guided and foolish in our actions – having the knowledge of a ‘said God’ but not knowing the power of the ‘said God’. And not all people of the faith are this way, some are, but not all are in this ‘limited thinking’ mold. I guess I learned (like Stan & Kyle) that I need to be more open to all people – things are not quite as they seem – I lived in that lie for some time – but now I know it’s a self-invented perception.

This faith is under a lot of scrutiny from a lot of weird places – I learned this from interaction with muslims, atheists, evangelicals, free-thinkers, scientists, liberal Christians, etc. I don’t mind challenging the ideals of the faith that ‘don’t work’ – or even the structure of the church – I enjoy knowing that we need change – this has become quite obvious. But if you have a hard time saying ‘we’ when talking about the church – you just crossed a line that you never knew you did (and that’s your right as a human being). If it is true you entered the ‘other side’ of this dialogue – then any criticism laid is a really a criticism wasted (since ‘you’ are not in the ‘we’ anymore – you actually ‘gave up’ on the ‘we’).

I have found all this liberal jargon is quite fun and a great way to vent some of the current frustrations we have about the faith – I actually have little problem with that (hell I do it too). But if you can only play the ‘blame game’ and not find alternative answers to these problems that you and others are experiencing – what good can that be? Are there answers? Yes or no?

I come from a neighborhood in some serious trouble (see last post) and I have realized this faith offers more hope than any single program, tv show, song, or complaint – some of these people in the ‘hood’ just want some stability and a paradigm to live by – and frankly – I have to say, this faith is the best solution to the problem (or at least an all around way to start dealing with it). In this faith we have hope, structure, ideas of dedication, compassion, love, stability, care for the poor, etc. In this faith is a great paradigm for the new believer – and for those who have been broken in half – by the world around them.

I have had a lot of people tell me how useless the bible, the church, the faith, Jesus, prayer, and worship all are – but have you ever been without hope? Do you remember the feeling of ‘being lost’? Well remember that and then throw in heavy problems in crime, addictions, education, family stability, and lack of faith in authority – and you might catch a glimpse of why this faith has a great ability to reach ‘the actual poor’. Maybe we all just got too ‘rich’ for our ownselves.

But there is problems in the structure of church – I know that and I want them changed (or at the least challenged). There are problems in interpretation of scripture – I know that also and I want that changed (or at least challenged). The focus of the church misses the ‘real poor in society’ – I know this and I want this changed – immediately. There are problems of narrow-minded-ness and of unity – I know this and I want this changed. I am not sure where I fit in, left or right or centre-minded, but I do know that I want to see change in the church and more unity amongst the majority of us – and I think we need to not forget the faith – or those still in the faith that just might need us to walk beside them.