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  • What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    by Dion A Forster, Wessel Bentley
  • Methodism in Southern Africa: A celebration of Wesleyan Mission
    Methodism in Southern Africa: A celebration of Wesleyan Mission
    by Dion A Forster, Wessel Bentley
  • Christ at the centre - Discovering the Cosmic Christ in the spirituality of Bede Griffiths
    Christ at the centre - Discovering the Cosmic Christ in the spirituality of Bede Griffiths
    by Dion A Forster
  • An uncommon spiritual path - the quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity
    An uncommon spiritual path - the quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity
    by Dion A Forster
Transform your work life: Turn your ordinary day into an extraordinary calling. by Dion Forster and Graham Power.
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Wednesday
Oct312007

The power of money! What hold does it have on you?

Money is a very powerful thing.  People die, and kill, for it (or the lack of it) each and every day...

Most people are unaware how much hold their money has over them.  We live as if we are truly free, yet for so many of us our decisions and lives are shaped by the decisions we make about money:

- what career will I follow?
- where do I choose to live?
- will I make it to the end of the month before the end of the money?

If you want to see how powerful money is, simply ask someone to tell you how much they earn... If they're silenced by your question, it is likely that they, like most of us, have been overpowered by money.

I am quite skeptical of pastors and churches that 'force' their members to tithe on their income (i.e., give a 10% of their earnings) by promising them that this sacrifice will bring blessing.  However, there is a faith principle contained in this practice...  The principle is not that God will bless you for giving God (the one who has no need for money) 10% of your income...  Sadly most of those Churches and Pastors are not using the money they get for the work of God!
However, the value of the principle of generous giving is that it forces me give away something that has a hold over me, without the hope of receiving anything in return.  Each time I give I find a bit more freedom.

And, of course, anything that has that much power over me must be subjected to the rule and authority of Christ - after all, he is not only my Saviour, he is my Lord!

As a minister I have had to make many choices that would seem counterintuitive in a consumer society... Today I was faced with a choice to earn more money to do something different to what I am doing now...  When my first thoughts turned to what I could get out of it I realised that this choice could not be made without prayer, and careful discernment.  Today I was reminded that I am controlled by money.  I don't want to be - I want only to be controlled by what will help to achieve God's mission of healing and transformation in the world.

Please pray for me.

Reader Comments (2)

Hi Dion,

Thanks for once again being vulnerable, honest and thought-provoking in your posting. I enjoy reading your challenging insights!

I have also wrestled with money - its meaning, its power, how to manage it, what theology should govern it. I have been part of the so-called prosperity church movement in the past, and experienced, first hand, the kind of pain and abuse that this sytem can cause. I have also embraced, for a time, the "poverty is holy" thinking that sometimes prevails in our churches.

I grew up in a moderately wealthy home. I am among the wealthiest people in the world - since I have a car to drive! And I weep over the unnecessary poverty in our world.

But, I wonder whether we haven't allowed our view and theology of money to get skewed in the church. I wonder if, like with sexuality, we have become so afraid of the possible evil, that we've overbalanced, and ended up throwing the baby out with the bath water.

One of the questions that has plagued me for a long time is this: How does the church do effective ministry without the funding to support it? And if we don't learn to get comfortable with money, and making money, how wil this ever change?

Linked with this is a personal desire to contribute to causes like HIV/AIDS, poverty alleviation and the environment. However, because of being involved in ministry I had neither the time nor the financial resources to offer anything to these initiatives.

These questions helped me to come the following conclusions:
1. It is correct that you cannot help the poor by bringing down the rich.
2. If no one ever used their talent for making money, who would provide the necessary resources for ministry?
3. The world is not a limited pie with only so much to go around. I believe that there is plenty for everyone. The challenge for me is not that I renounce wealth (such as I may be able to generate), but that I accept the responsibility that comes with having wealth.
4. Money is powerful, it is necessary, and it can be used for good or ill. The same applies to sex, authority, knowledge, leisure, medicinal drugs, and even food. Thus what is needful, in my view, is a theology that allows me to find the creative ways to use and enjoy these things, while avoiding and rejecting the destructive within them.

So, for me, I find it difficult to believe that wanting money, working for money, or even helping to people to make money is, in and of itself, wrong. It's always about how it's done, what it's done for, and what the consequence for the individual, the community and the world might be.

I hope the church can get beyond our fear and suspicion of money, and our ambivalence toward those who have or make lots of it. Lets recognise that money, like everything, can be both a blessing and a curse, and lets learn, and teach our people, how to ensure it is the former and not the latter.

Ok, end of sermon! I'll will continue to pray for you, as I know you will do for me.

For what its' worth
John.

PS. If you want to know how much I earn, just ask... ;-)

November 1, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

Hey John,

Thanks so much for the comment! I particularly like two things in what you write above.

First, I like what you say about sufficiency and scarcity - it is a scarcity mentality that causes us to deal with anything in a sinful manner (I won't have enough for myself, so I hoard at the expense of others). At least that's the way I see it.

Second, I like your gentle reminder that we need balance! Indeed, money in and of itself is not fundamentally evil, and neither are wealthy persons. Plus, it reminds me that poverty and poor people are not to be romanticized! Not all poor people are saints!

What one needs is a healthy balance, as with all things in God's Kingdom...

As for what you earn... I guess I could look it up in Minutes of Conference / Yearbook... ha ha!

Blessings my friend! Thanks for your help and encouragement with my books!

You're a gift!

D

November 1, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterdigitaldion (Dion Forster)

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