fain | fān | archaic

fain | fān | archaic: adjective: 1. pleased or willing under the circumstances, eager. 2. obliged. adverb: gladly

Monday, November 28, 2011

Money is the most indispensable thing in life…right?

In the climactic scene from the movie A Few Good Men, Navy lawyer, LTJG Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise), questioning Marine Corps COL Nathan R. Jessep (Jack Nicholson), shouts, “I want the truth!” to which Colonel Jessep explodes, “You can’t handle the truth!” The truth we cannot handle is that, despite what we say, we believe and therefore act, like money is the most indispensable thing in life.

Truth is, everything we need … food, clothing, shelter, transportation, and medical care … is obtained with money. Things we want, like healthier food, finer homes and furnishings, luxury automobiles, more fashionable clothes, trips, and other luxuries, are obtained with money.

Many important relationships simply do not even begin or cannot be sustained without money. We live in a cash economy. Money is the medium of exchange and the measure of value in that economy. A cash-based economy allows more people to engage in commerce with others than bartering allows. We give our time, energy, and abilities … in sum our life … to some enterprise for which in return we receive cash. We then take that cash to provide for the basic needs we have and, if there is enough, to meet the desires that are unique to each of us.

Given the necessity of money for every person then, is it any wonder that its place in our lives, in our thinking, and in our behavior is so skewed? Is it any wonder that it is easier to act as if we have put our trust in money, rather than in God, to provide for us?

Those who follow Jesus Christ hold a very different understanding of, and relationship to, money. First, they believe that their money is not their own. It is all God’s. It is given to them by God to provide for the needs that God knows every person has. It is entrusted to their individual management so that they may make their way in the world, provide for the common good, and provide for God’s purposes in the world.

Next, followers of Jesus Christ are grateful for all they have received, be it income, liberty, health, family, the list could be quite long. They understand that, while some of these blessings are attributed to their own industry, discipline, or good habits, nonetheless, more of it is attributable to factors not of their choosing, such as their genes, parental support, education, and so on. As the great hymn Old 100th proclaims, “Know that the Lord is God indeed, without our aid he did us make.” But, most of all, they are thankful for incalculable value of God’s grace gift of Jesus Christ in redeeming and renewing their lives.

Therefore, followers of Jesus Christ tangibly express their gratitude as they honor God with their lives (measurably and concretely represented by their money) by undertaking an intentional practice of giving. This disciplined approach puts money back into its appropriate place. The followers of Jesus Christ are masters over their money, not mastered by it, and when money is put into its right place in our lives, then God may have his. And the truth is, He will not settle for anything less.

Waiting for the Messiah

This Sunday marks the beginning of a new Christian year and our entry into the season of Advent. Advent challenges us to prepare ourselves for the three-fold coming of Jesus Christ into the world.

Its first emphasis is on Jesus’ coming again at the end of human history, or at the end of your life, whichever comes first. Scripture warns us that either one of these events can come quickly and without warning, so don’t be unprepared! Get your house, your business, in order! Don’t put it off!

While attending to the business of the previous paragraph, with urgency by the way, Advent also invites us to hear again the story of God’s loving purposes as he became incarnate in this world, entered into this reality in Jesus Christ to save and redeem all the world. Whatever else the culture wishes to maintain about different religions and other spiritual ways, the scandal of the Christian proclamation is that the only God that there is, is in Christ, reconciling the world to himself.

Born in Bethlehem, lived in Palestine, up and down the dusty roads teaching,
preaching, and healing, crucified in Jerusalem, buried there, raised from the dead, now at the Father’s right hand, Jesus is either who he claims he is as the Son of God, or he is a calculating, manipulative liar.

This Incarnate Christ is always coming into this world making himself accessible to us in the scriptures, through preaching and holy communion, through friend and stranger. A kind word, a simple gesture, care, and concern for others, any act that makes life easier for others … all of these and many more become the avenues by which Jesus continues to come to us.

Open your hearts, your wills, your imaginations, and welcome him in. For the Messiah that has come, is coming, and will come again. Come, Lord Jesus!