I have a nice house, two cars, and my kids went to college. Furthermore, I am a boss and have the power to hire and fire people. Am I in spiritual danger? If you look at Jesus’ message, the answer is “Yes.” There’s a very real danger that my access to resources and power will corrupt my heart.
I want to play the issue down. And lest you come to my rescue by saying, “It’s not a question of the stuff you own or the power you wield per se, it’s about your heart,’ I sense God whispering this: “Don’t try to dodge the danger inherent in this issue. You need to pay close attention to Jesus’ perspective on this issue of wealth and power.”
If you look at what he says, you see Jesus continually tells those in power to lower themselves. He lays the Pharisees low. He tells the rich, young ruler to sell his belongings before following him. And then James builds the case further. He compares our attitudes toward the well-dressed as opposed to those who are filthy and he takes us to task. (see James 2
) And he takes on rich people particularly when he says, “Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes.” (James 5
In contrast, Jesus lifts up those who don’t have power. He speaks tenderly to the sick, the widow, and the poor. He targets them for encouragement and healing. He lifts their heads. James summarizes his perspective: “Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be
rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?” (James 2:5
What does this mean for a nation of rich, young rulers? It’s a sobering question. Something is at stake here and I don’t think it’s that Jesus just likes to pick on powerful people. I think it’s that he loves them so much that he’s willing to go after the stuff that clogs their spiritual arteries – the things that keep them from depending on him.
What does it mean for you and me? Ask yourself: Am I open-handed with my stuff? Am I gracious with the power I wield? Do I treat those who are poor and powerless with respect?
I pray that you do. We all work out our salvation with fear and trembling.