More from Lay Minister Bill Huebsch. This is some really good, well thought-out teaching… challenging but inviting at the same time.
I think we could lay down some principles for thinking about money as followers of Jesus Christ and we will begin this by looking at the teachings of Jesus himself.
The Gospels, of course, give no blueprint; they aren’t an economics textbook.
But they do give us some hints about how the ethic of Jesus might be applied to our modern lives.
Let’s start with Matthew’s Gospel.
Give It Away
When we read about Jesus’ birth in Matthew we find there are no poor shepherds guarding their flocks by night and coming in haste to a stable.
Rather, Matthew presents us with something more radical: wealthy, foreign visitors, the Magi.
Traditionally we think of these Magi as three men, often called three kings, but the text of Matthew gives neither number nor gender. The best we can surmise about them was that they were holy men or women, shamans, perhaps, from distant cultures; wisdom figures or healers.
They were persons in search of the abiding human truth about life, love and longing. And what did they do when the met Jesus? They shared their wealth in lavish style, setting a theme for Matthew that continues to the end of his Gospel.
A Lavish Gift
Later on, in chapter 26, a woman looks for and finds Jesus in the home of Simon the Leper. There she anoints him with “the most expensive ointment…” When others object, Jesus defends her for she had offered a religious act of love and devotion to him.
But she had also engaged in an economic act: “nothing should be spared when caring for the Body of Christ.” Nothing.
This woman radically lavished herself and her wealth on others. And at the end of this Gospel Jesus is buried by “a rich man of Arimathea…” This man Joseph was also a disciple of Jesus but still maintained his wealth.
Throughout this Gospel it seems clear to us that apparently material poverty was not the goal for Jesus’ followers. Nowhere do we read that either the disciples or Jesus were particularly poor. Destitution is not the aim of the Gospel. Something more demanding is.
Jesus Changes Us Interiorly
Because once they met Jesus, something did change for people. It was that they became materially impoverished: it isn’t that suddenly the world and clothing and food or housing and transportation or education and entertainment or gifts and vacations and money became evil.
The world is not evil but good, created and good. But for those who meet Jesus there is a clear and definite shift in attitude.
Now, rather than hoarding selfishly, taking care of myself first, providing only for my own family, ignoring the plight of widows, orphans, and strangers, there is a new attitude.
This new attitude is characterized by love and openness, generosity, absolute readiness to place everything at the disposal of the New Community, the Reign of God in Jesus Christ.
Once we meet Jesus, we take on the call to Radical Hospitality!