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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Jesus and work, part III (Money)

Most of us work because we need money. I remember a friend of mine who on quitting a job because of an idiot boss said to me, "You know, all I'll really miss is the money. Isn't that sad?" She was young, and hadn't yet started out on any quest for "vocation" (tomorrow's topic), so money was pretty much her only motivator to work. But even at the ripe old age of 23 she knew that was stupid.

If you only work for money it does not take long to NOT get out of bed in the morning. Money (and all that it buys or represents) is an insatiable goddess, and to follow her takes real dedication and shrewdness. Making money is never difficult--having work worth doing that you can get paid for? Priceless.

During a job transition someone will come into my office and say, "I want to find meaning in any new job I get." I usually nod in agreement. And the problem is??? "Well...I have bills to pay." From there we can go to work on how to best mesh our search for meaning with having enough for bills to pay.

It seems to me that is where God wants us to understand "work." Work is the way we express who we are in God's creation, and to find meaning, not just be a cog in a machine or a number on a roster. This is why "greed" has been a sin in the church for a long time. "Greed" replaces your search for who you are with money in the work equation. Greed, in other words, misdirects work away from you and into its results. So the "love" of money becomes the root of all evil, not money itself. Money is neutral, but the moment you make it a value, you slide away from working as who you are to working as being greedy.

The Occupy Wall Street movement interests me these days because you have people who are trying to right a balance somehow. They see the attainment and abuse of wealth as reason enough to sleep in a park. Jesus was a little more radical, he actually went and did a little damage to the operations of the wealth he thought was abusive, but the modern day protestors have hit on an important distinction. The seeking of wealth over and above being a part of God's creation destroys the communities we seek. (By the way, many wealthy know this, which is why they often seek shelter in communities of their own creation...it's nice to be rich.)

It is an American creed to be able to make as much money as you want...and that is fine...but it is not part of the Christian creed, and we should never forget the difference.

May your tables be full, and your conversations be true.

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