Thursday, March 8

High Stakes

The last lesson covered Ephesians 5:19-6:9, so I'm picking up here with about my 22nd lesson.

How high are the stakes for how we use our money, time, and the rest of our resources? So far we have said that, of course, the consequences are eternal. I can invest in current wealth and luxury and work to please people, or store up treasure and buy real estate in heaven.

But Paul gives a new twist on the stakes:

Eph. 6:10-13 
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

We are in a battle! Every choice and every action either allows the spiritual forces of evil to prevail or not.

Paul's using an image from the devastating forces of the Roman Empire. In A.D. 70, for example, the general Titus led a Roman cohort against Jerusalem. They put the city under siege, meaning that they closed off all traffic in and out of the city, cutting off their supply lines for commerce and food. After about 6 months the starving people, in desperation, gave in to the Romans and it was demolished.

"Stand firm" sounds like a defensive posture in battle, because our modern militaries move in to attack. But the Romans dominated the known world by conquering city after city through "standing firm."

Paul says that since Jesus has come, bringing the Good News of the Kingdom of God into this world, our enemies, the spiritual forces of evil are under siege. They are desperate and are fighting in every possible way to keep from losing ground. 

Will we stand firm in our use of money, using it for the purposes of the Kingdom? Money is powerful, and subverting the current powers that be is neither popular nor safe. But the end is sure: God's Kingdom will prevail. 

And I believe we can put our money to good use to ferret out forces of spiritual evil in our world, by using it in Kingdom ways: generosity, fighting poverty, fighting injustice and oppression, bringing truth and fighting deception, bringing the good news of hope and life to people in bondage everywhere. 

That is appealing! I want to continue to dream about how Jen and I can give more and more money, time, and resources to this kind of work in our world. 

For we are in a battle.


Alan Fadling said...

So appreciate your life and your reflections! May God's grace continue to empower your intentions!

Mailin said...

Thanks for your thoughts on money Jon. The older we get and the longer we stay overseas it seems the more resources we need to be thoughtful and faithful with.

Eternal Learner said...

Thank you both for your encouraging comments!