There's a March sale over at cbd.com, where you can nab Michael Bird's 'Are You the One Who Is to Come?' for a sweet price of $3.99. This book is a fascinating read where its depth and scope go beyond its length (208 pages).
I'm sort of offended that you're still reading this post; you should've bought 4 copies of the book by now.
I went to a meeting for the church elders, and to put it frankly: I didn't fit in.
I don't have the ability to think outside the box on big issues. I can't consider all the issues that goes into making good decisions for the health and needs of the church that haven't already been laid out with an appended pros and cons chart. Thinking about creative ways in reaching our local context--not a chance, 'cause I need about 15 hours to think about the different social and ethnic groups in our local context (which will take me about 3 hours to finally settle on an adequate definition of what that means!). And I haven't even gotten to money matters!
I cannot conceptualize a grand vision and three action steps to get the ball rolling. I didn't even know something had to be changed! Everyone else's ideas were machine gunning out, while my ideas were flopping out like a broken rubber band. My mind is too slow and I get hung up on irrelevant side issues. In terms of ministry production, I'm dial-up in a 4G world.
So what can I do? More specifically, what good can I do? What can I do if i can't create, or reason through possible ministry ventures?
This passage is certainly on the go-to list for a Christian perspective of money and material goods. If the passage comes up in a Bible study or a casual Christian conversation, I'm sure the majority of those present will explain it in terms like "focus on kingdom values, not earthly" or "use your money for God things, not me things." Well and good.
Yet, I am curious as to whether this understanding best fits the context in which Jesus says this. As is well-known, Jesus speaks this Sermon on the Mount (whether he advertised it as such, we do not know) to those who joined themselves to his movement (the 12 disciples), as well as the people sitting around overhearing it. So I wonder: How would they have understood his summons to abandon storing up "treasures on earth" (that is, money and nice possessions) and instead relocate them to heaven? I wonder about this because although the text does not comment on the income levels of the people present, I'm going to assume it is not much because Jesus didn't seem to interact too often with the cultural elite. And we do hear the disciples say elsewhere that they have given up all they have to follow him, and they're the ones Jesus is primarily speaking to. So what "treasure" do they have to store up?
So I wonder if taking into account the financial situation of the people present may lead us to a more suitable understanding of Jesus' teaching here. I don't know what that will look like; it may be more like a facelift than total reconstructive surgery, who knows.
I am a critic, firm and critical. But I am not the good kind. I am a prideful critic.
When it comes to Bible-y things, I assume I know lots. And not only lots of facts, but lots of answers. So when other people try to speak about things within my realm of knowledge, I don't consider their ideas valid, but see them as guilty until proven innocent, intellectually intenable until conceptually possible. It's a hostile defense mechanism established under my self-aggrandizing regime. The thoughts are of others are immediately held suspect, tortured, interrogated and released with cold indifference, if realeased at all. It seems as though grace has not penetrated my sphere of intellectual property, since I worked hard to acquire this monopoly on biblical and theological truth [roll eyes now]. While on occasion a refreshing spirit of humility and charity may descend from on high, too often I labor as a temple without The Presence, a person that loves self with heart-soul-mind, but doesn't reciprocate that love to others because I am not loving the LORD first.