Sunday, November 5

Pecuniary Perspective

Here's my Study #3 on God and Money:

Passage: Eph. 1:8-21
With all wisdom and insight
9 he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11 In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12 so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14 this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.

15 I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. 17 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, 18 so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. 20 God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. 22 And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Lessons (especially related to God & Money): Paul continues to use money language to describe reality: inheritance, will, pledge (or downpayment), riches of his glorious inheritance. Somehow we can grasp our life with God better by contemplating it in financial terms.

Principle: Money is a symbol, a sign to point us to the greater reality which is unseen.

How can I use money as a way to point me towards God and his goodness?
First, of course, seeing the money itself as a blessing and gift from God reminds me of the giver, and I could practice consciously being thankful every time I take a bill out of my wallet or run my debit card through the machine.

Second, I suppose many or all of us think about future security, happiness, and provision in financial terms. Every time I think about how much money I have in our bank accounts, or whether we should save, or look at the (meager) amount we're investing towards retirement, I should think about where my true future provision, security and happiness lies--in the one who has lavished every spiritual blessing upon us.

Lesson: The cosmic, universal purpose of God, planned out in God's counsel and set forth in his "will and testament" is to bring all things together in Christ, both heavenly and earthly things. That necessarily includes money and all material possessions. Jesus is head over all things, including money, for the church.

I don't get this yet. In general terms, of course it's true. But specifically, how are money and resources brought together in Christ? I suppose that like I have various kinds of cells and particles in my body, so Jesus contains all money, bank accounts, ATM and credit cards, banks, budgets, accounting software, debts and loans, and so on. What does this mean, practically, though?

I know I want my entire body to be ordered so that it functions well. My quality of life and particularly my ability to accomplish things and work well in this world depend on it. Jesus (unlike me) has the power to control and order everything within his body. All these things I named are extremely small to him, and have no life or vitality outside of him.

The other part of this is that God has placed all things under Christ's feet--including every rule, authority, power and dominion. This includes CitiBank, First USA, my credit union, the IRS, every share traded on the stock market, the Fed which sets the interest rates, the housing market with its home prices and rental costs, the utilities companies, the governments that set our taxes, and so on.

Principle: No financial institution or government has power over us or our money outside of the sovereignty of Christ. No matter how much power they seem to have over us, it's only an illusion. Jesus has all the power and though they may not know it now, they will one day. No matter how immense and fearsome they seem to me, they are miniscule to Jesus and their life is as the life of a gnat to him.

What should this mean to me? Any fears or anxieties I have related to money or any of these institutions, from financial to governmental, should prompt me to step back and look at the perspective of true reality: how small and relatively powerless they are, and where they are--under Christ's power.


Eddy E said...

Jon, Thanks for your insights. I appreciate the way you are sharing how you are interacting with scripture.

Bryant said...

Hi Jon, this is Bryant. Bo's been telling me that you're an interesting guy. A glance through your blog confirms it! I enjoyed reading some of your thoughts.

And I loved your talk at our Easter event last year for All Nations. It actually made the gospel sound like good news! very cool.

I noticed you came across Newbiggin's _Gospel in a Pluralist Society_. Did you end up reading it? I read it in college and I loved it. I recently ordered a couple more of his books, but haven't gotten very far through them yet.

I'm also interested in your post about the inclusivity of the gospel. I've been asking those questions for a long time, and have recently been doing a little reading on the topic (led a study for All Nations on it last summer). Maybe I'll email you sometime with my thoughts and questions on it, once time slows down a bit!

I'm speaking in seminar every week this quarter, so time is unfortunately scarce. You must be busy too, with those three little ones I see in your profile photo! Anyhow, I just thought I'd introduce myself and let you know that I enjoyed looking through your blog. Talk to you later.


Eternal Learner said...

Thanks for the input, guys!