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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.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Money, Work and Jesus

At some point your work has to take into account money. No matter how much your work is your avocation, no matter how you have arrived at what my pastor Eric Elnes calls your "sweet spot" (the place where your desires for God meet God's desires for you), most of us work for money.

Now, "money" means a couple of different things. First, for rich people, it is a thing until itself. (That is how and why they are rich, at least in terms of money.) For others, and this is the greater number I am sure, money is an intermediary goal to something else. This is why I am not rich, at least in terms of money. For me, money has no value except what it can get me. I don't want money just to have money, I want money so I can go to restaurants, or movies, or pay for my kid's college, or fix a broken furnance. This--to me--is the biggest difference between rich and not-rich people--rich like money as money, not as what kind of sense of security or self or communal improvement it might provide.

Jesus seems to have understood this distinction I am trying to make. He chides some rich people about how a widow who makes an offering of "all she had" impresses God more than someone who just gives "off-the-top." However, if you need to pay a mortgage, someone who gives you a couple thousand "extra" makes it easier to pay the mortage than someone who gives you all $4 in his wallet. But in the "It's the thought that counts" way of thinking, the all is more impressive than the some.

So why do we work? If we work for money we may have missed what God seems to call us to do in the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ of God. From the stories we have of Jesus' adulthood, he never worked, and he certainly seems to never have been compensated for anything. So why did he work? (Doing whatever he did--healing, teaching, managing.) Because he "loved" it? There's not a lot of evidence to suggest that. Because he wanted money (or the things money could get him)? Not a lot of evidence for that either.

Why else would we work if not for the money? Why would we work if not for the satisfaction we receive from it? Perhaps we jump a few decades to after the death of Jesus. Paul, a guy who really believed Jesus had it right about our relationship with God and with our world, said we do things "for the common good." Maybe we work, not because we love money, not because we love ourselves, but because we love our world...we love our neighbor? Maybe the reason why you work has nothing to do with "you", and everything to do with "us?"

May your tables be full and your conversations be true.

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