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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.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Wealth, Money, and Why I Don't Care

On my way to church yesterday I checked my odometer, and 1.2 miles from my house I passed the home of Warren Buffet. You may have heard of him...if not, click here. Mr. Buffet is famous for being rich (worth 46 billion dollars according to Wikipedia.) Since our media is so bored with everything, they follow him around as if whatever he does is so interesting...(the first time I saw Mr. Buffet in public we were sitting across from each other at a 5 Guys burgers. where he asked his daughter to pay, as he said, "I don't have any cash." I can't make up that kind of humor.)    Did you know that the 6 heirs of the Walmart fortune have more wealth than the bottom 33 million people in our country? Does that seem strange to you? It seems strange to me too, but I don't really know what do think about that statistic? Is it bad? Is it good? Does it matter? Who cares? I mean basically that statistic tells me that there are really rich people in the world compared to others, but so what?

Now don't get me wrong. I am not a rich person in terms of money. (My taxable income for 2012 was $4700, or a little less than $400 a month. I assume I am one of those 33 million trying to keep up with the Walton family. See this interesting video) On the other hand, I never have to miss a meal because I don't have money. I simply do not care about wealth and money. I live off the grace and generosity of family and friends. Thank you.

But the main reason I try not to make much money is because it bores me. I get bored immediately when a conversation turns to wealth and money. (I am so allergic to such conversations that even when we have to talk about it, I don't.) I just don't care. I don't care who has money or not. I don't care if you want more or want less. I don't care.

I don't like rich people better than poor people (although I once played Max in The Sound of Music who has this wonderful line. "I like rich people. I like how I live when I'm with rich people.") I assume, gentle reader, as someone who is interested in Jesus of Nazareth that you too, are not prone to liking people solely on the basis of their wealth. It remains to be seen if Jesus actually liked wealthy people himself. He had some friends that seemed to be wealthy (Peter, his chief disciple, for example), but he didn't find that wealth something to brag about.

I remember a great conversation I had when I first got to Bismarck. My new friend, on hearing I was going to be his pastor said, "I could never do your job." I asked why not? He said, "I know what you get paid, and I want to make more money than that." Why? He looked at me as if I was the stupidest person he's ever met..."So I can be free to do what I want." hmmmm......

I fear most people who obsess about wealth and money do so for that reason--freedom to do what you want, to not have people tell you what to do, to "be your own woman!" I suppose there are other reasons why people want money and wealth, and, of course, some people just have it. (One of my favorite quotations from the late Malcolm Forbes was on how he earned his first million dollars, "I did it the old-fashioned way, my father died.") I don't care if you have money or not, or even if you want money or not--but I will say this: if you are seeking money to secure your freedom, you may be looking in the wrong place.

Freedom (even to do "whatever you want") cannot be purchased--it can only be given or taken. If you have it, how do you share it? If you don't,...well that's why there's revolutions. And for Christians, who've had freedom given to them by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, how does that make a difference in your life? Your wealth? Your money? It seems to me that if you want the freedom to do "what I want" the most dangerous thing to do would be to hoard money. Because if those who don't have money also think that's how they get their freedom, well, then you're just one tea party away from losing it all. Money, wealth, freedom, and maybe even your life.

May your tables be full and you conversations be true.

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