Monday, March 21, 2011

Does Jesus think you're rich?

Are you rich?

Perceptions of material wealth and poverty are so often relative. We compare ourselves to our neighbours to decide whether we are well-off or struggling. And my tendency is usually to look up the food chain rather than down. If someone along the street has twice as much as I do, then I must be poor. Bill Gates could look at Hosni Mubarak and consider himself a little cash-strapped.

What does Jesus think? If I have a fixed abode,* a change of clothes** and know where my next meal is coming from,*** then I'm rich.

Are you rich?

It is not wrong to be rich, but it does mean those of us who are so abundantly wealthy as to have weeks of food stored up (and more easily obtainable nearby for a tiny fraction of our income), cupboards full of clothes and multiple secure rooms for our personal use need to think of ourselves as such and so take heed of the instructions in holy scripture addressed to those who are rich. We need to get some perspective and learn how to be rich.
*Luke 9.58. Fixed abode doesn't mean you have to own your house, just that you have a place to live.
**Luke 3.11. I realise these words are actually said by John, but Jesus also assumes that his disciples will only have one cloak (Luke 22.36).
***Luke 12.13-34.

The image is of Judas kissing Christ, a statue flanking the Scala Sancta in Rome. Judas was the disciples' treasurer, and would enrich himself at the expense of the common good (John 12.5-6).


Aj said...

I like this post Byron.

Especially as I just read from someone else (to give respect to "the worlds best invester")..“Warren Buffett bagged nearly $10 billion in interest, fees and dividends on the $5 billion lifeline he extended to Goldman Sachs in 2008.” - Financial Times.

I look at myself and I look at my sibling. I have free or minimal cost furniture I have obtained from freecycle, clothes to the same effect. (Freecycle is an idea of community/council clean up/sharing what you don't need and asking for what you do... I feel it is good and healthy).

I find it hard to stomach that my sibling will have a cardboard box until they can get blackwood for the bedside table, that they eat until they are 150kg though all lovely cooking I am sure.

I used to have money but due to unfortunate circumstances, now I do not.

I still regard myself as rich in many ways. I have a government that supports me and the ability to earn a small amount of extra income.

But where I am not rich is in friendships and relationships. Jesus says to love your neighbour as yourself. In not supporting communism I do support that statement. But without community, this seems a fading commodity. And so in those aspects I feel poor.

We need to call for a richness in these areas so that even my base Western concept of wealth (currently mainly welfare) does not go by the wayside that I may be homeless and begging with many others.