Jesus’ gospel was about creating a different way of being human together, here, now. It was not about a post mortem destination. Jesus was casting the vision of a beautiful community of people dedicated to making sure no one was pushed to the edges or undersides of their community, no one was made vulnerable, and every member of the community held a mutual commitment to share what they could to ensure everyone was cared for.
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(Read this series from its beginning here.)
This was what the gospel authors called the “empire” or “kingdom” of God, a community in which God reigned. It was a community where people came first. So how does the deceitfulness of wealth obstruct this?
First, a community where God reigns according the gospel stories is a community where people are of a greater priority than profit or wealth-building. This is why the gospels repeatedly state that in a community such as the one Jesus describes, we have to choose between God and money. It’s one or the other.
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6.24)
This was also the practice of the early believers in the book of Acts:
“All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.” (Acts 2:44-45)
“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had . . . there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales, and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.” (Acts 4:32-35)
But how is wealth deceitful?
Hoarded wealth gives us a sense of security, but this kind of security leaves us alone, isolated, on our own, each of us in our silos of hoarded resources, feeling that we will be able to take care of ourselves but living against the grain of reality and how we survive as a planet, together. As we discussed weeks ago, we are all connected. We are all part of one another. No one survives alone, and if there is such a thing as social salvation, no one is saved unless we all are saved.
But wealth creates in us a kind security that isolates us from fellow members of our human family. We’ll discuss a corrective, next.
(Read Part 3)