Money & possessions are also an issue of security.
Most of us will inevitably seek to establish our security through our possessions. This seems so natural, such basic common sense that we wonder how there could possibly be a problem with it. The problem is basically that the more we rely on our possessions for security, the easier it is to leave God out of our lives.
This is the reason that Jesus said to his disciples “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich person to enter into heaven.” It is not that wealth and possessions are inherently bad; it is simply that when our security or our self-identity or our reason for living is based on possessions it is impossible to keep God and the hope of God’s reign at the center of our lives.
Those with nothing, or very little, often find it easier to rely on God for their safety and security, and are under no illusions that they do these things themselves.
Let’s be clear…the Bible does not say that money and possessions are inherently bad. It does say however, “The love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10-11)
How might that be true???
What is important is our attitude towards money and possessions and our awareness of the danger they pose to our ability to embrace the vision of God’s will for our lives. Preoccupation with money distorts this vision.
Jesus knew that left to our own designs we would inevitably try to find satisfaction and fulfillment through our possessions. But money cannot buy the most important things in life. It can only buy substitutes. Money can buy companionship it cannot buy friendship or love. It can buy the odd laugh, but it can never buy joy. It can buy amusement and entertainment, but it cannot buy happiness. Sometimes it can even buy solitude, but it cannot buy peace. All of us know that this is true. But it is still so easy to live as though money can bring the things that will satisfy our deepest longings.
Yet we know how quickly the thrill of a new purchase or acquisition wears off. Almost before we get home, we are thinking what else we need to complement this new purchase. Another article of clothing would be just what we need, another piece of furniture, another room on the house, a slightly better model of car…
Our true desires cannot be satisfied by possessions. Augustine so clearly saw the truth of this centuries ago. Pouring out his heart to God he prayed. “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.” One of the most destructive lies of any age is that the longing in our hearts to know God can be satisfied by the things that money can buy.
Jesus knew all about this and more. So Jesus talked about money. He knew that if we are ever to become the people God created us to be, we must learn a new way of thinking about money.
It is not going too far to say that for many of us our attitude towards money and our willingness to learn a new way of thinking about it will be a major, perhaps the major issue in our growth as follower of Jesus, as Christians.
We can go to church on Sundays, and profess our desire to live as followers of Jesus, but so often, our visa bill tells the true story of what we believe in and what we live for.
That’s why this cartoon of someone being baptized and holding their wallet above the water is funny…because it’s true.
The baptismal waters, when we decide to follow Jesus, are about washing away the old person, and revealing a new person. But that can only happen if we give all of ourselves to him for transformation, and we hold nothing back. Money is one of the easiest things to hold back; for fear that Jesus will really change us. But that’s the point, that Jesus can change all of us, if we give it all to him and his purposes. It’s challenging, but true.