"Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?"
I think this verse falls under the category of what Tim Keller calls God's "best practices". It is a general principle that this is so. It is not always so. There are plenty of financially successful people who are quite rich in faith. There are also lots of poor people out there who never really grow in faith. I'm also not comfortable here with the idea of self-denial being equal to intentionally shunning the world's goods. We live in a real world and there are realities we need to be aware of.
Those of us in the West live in one cultural/economic reality. People in rural Russia, for instance, live an a completely different reality. That having been said, I think it takes a whole lot more work for me in my reality to become rich in the things of God because I am encumbered by so much of the world's distractions. Even writing this blog I find myself distracted by all the other 'stuff' on my screen and the IMs from people wanting my attention. do you know how hard it is for a computer addict to turn off their IM?
A subsistence farmer may have to work hard through all the daylight hours, yes. But they often have a very rich home life that we in modern America somehow lack. I'm reminded of the Welsh coal miners who, in an effort to deal with the boredom of their task, sang hymns in the mines. Their devotion to God caused a major revival in the late 1800s and the Welsh hymn-singing societies, the Cymanfa Ganu (pronounced: Ga-man-va Gan-ee) are a 150 year old outgrowth of that time. These were some of the most financially strapped people in western culture in their day. They did some of the most physically demanding and dangerous work on earth. Yet they were people with a rich faith, folk, and family life.
I am not here calling for some sort of new monasticism. Nor do I think we should all 'sell all and give to the poor'. But honestly... if your SUV is costing you too much to maintain -- and I don't mean because of the price of gas -- if your 60 inch plazma TV costs you too much of the things of God, get rid of it.
Pastoral Relief and Retreat
- Wethersfield, CT, United States
- I am Pastor at Poquonock Community Church, Congregational (CCCC) in Windsor, CT. My wife Jama and I live in Wetherfield, CT. We'd like to invite you to Terre Haute -- High Ground -- That's what Jama and I call the retreat space on our property. We offer free intentional get-away retreats. We'll feed you and house you and give you space to be with the Lord. All are welcome; no questions asked. This blog is my daily devotional journal. I write it because it is so easy to go for weeks without ever taking the time to be alone with God. Writing helps me develop a discipline I need.