Money and faith are two really contentious issues in their own right but put them together and watch out. The reaction reminds me me of the problems of mixing toilet cleaners. If you had not heard there are two sorts of chemical reactions that are used by toilet cleaners. If you mix a toilet cleaner that uses one reaction with one that uses the other reaction then you need to stand clear. If you don’t you could get injured. The warning on the label not to mix toilet cleaners is there for very good reason.
I hope that you are not offended by using the analogy of a toilet cleaner but I could not think of two commonly used items that caused such a violent reaction when they were mixed. Money generates one form of energy in the world and God generates another but mix the two and you get all sorts of problems. So many problems that the advice seems to be similar to that for toilet cleaners keep the two things separate as far as possible.
What a mess?
Surely this was not the way the world was originally designed to be like. I look around and see situations where they seem to have got things partially right but the bit that is not right disturbs me. There is a place for generosity and giving but not for persuading people to give on the basis of inappropriate promises. There is a place for restraint and good planning but not for telling people to be content living on fresh air. There is a place for innovative business ideas but not for excessive profits or dishonest trading.
For some reason it is so hard pulling together all the upsides. Whey can’t we have people who develop godly businesses using divinely inspired ideas. People who know who to trade with honesty and integrity. People who know how to steward the money that comes to them so that they provide financial support for the things that God wants to see done in the world. People who understand how to plan ahead and even provide jobs for others.
What do we get instead? People who devalue those who make money. Shepherds who fleece the flock. Activities that cannot be financed and therefore end up being discontinued. People who are told that they need to make do and mend because they have to stay in the situation that they are in and learn to live with it. I am not sure that any of this is right.
Jesus did not devalue those who made money. He could easily have been a small business owner before he started his ministry. He also chose fishermen who were probably part of a family business to train as future leaders. He accepted Judas the keeper of the purse who also emptied it and then betrayed him. Jesus did miracles with limited resources. How else could one packed lunch feed thousands of people? He helped people escape from difficult financial situations. Think of the woman who had spent all she had on doctors but was still too unclean to live a normal life. A normal life that may have included finding a job a husband or both.
Putting it all together the way it should be
Paul in Corinthians talks about a body being made up of many parts with many functions. Each one respecting the role of others. Each one having different strengths and abilities but working together to achieve all that needed to be achieved.
We cannot all be employers as some need to be employees. We cannot all be tenants if we were there would be no houses to rent. However, we can all accept each other and recognise the value of each other. Easier said than done when you have political ideologies that value some parts of society more than others.
We can all steward the money we have wisely and give as God directs us. We can all follow God’s directions to improve our financial wellbeing, whether it is to turn an idea into a business or to invest money in something that will bring more money back to us. It could even be to follow His directions and avoid something unpleasant happening.
Personally I am sick of seeing so much turmoil around money. There are those who promote poverty as the best way forwards as that way money cannot control you. My response to that is stuff and nonsense as the time when money has had the biggest control over me has been when I have not had any. On the other side there are those who promote prosperity without the godly character development that is needed to handle money wisely. Each side of that discussion has reason to say the other is somewhat wide of the mark.
The next stage on the journey
Somewhere there must there must be a balanced approach that takes the best from the different strands of teaching to reach a point that truly reflects God’s heart. I am on the hunt for it. Interested in joining me. As I write this I am clearing the decks sorting out various part completed projects. Once that is done I will be setting off on a journey.
I really want to get my head around this issue even though I have already come quite some way on this journey. Long ago I realised that the best way of really developing your own understanding was to teach others. Take then as far as you had gone yourself and as you were doing that you will find yourself being stretched so that you go forwards as well.
I have everything I need to set up an online course so that is what I am going to do. The computer software, web site skills even the teaching qualifications that a college would want to employ me to do such a course.
The thing about journeys is that normally there are costs involved. Someone has to pay for the fuel in the vehicle as well as the maintenance costs. I had a look around locally to see how much it would cost me to attend a language course. It worked out at around £10 a week or £40 a month. The comparisons in terms of overheads and other costs seemed pretty fair as well.
Can you tell how much I am squirming with this? Something that came to me while praying about this was “remember many churches pay people to preach and teach them” I realised that these are people just like me who had a good background but then studied a bit more each week to bring a lesson to the church every week.
What is in it for you?
So what do you get in return for £40 a month. You get a lesson a week usually with an extract from a video and always with something to read. The intention is to set the text up so that it can be listened to as well as read. The classroom system will set up so that you can only access the lesson after a set time. There will be an opportunity for a live and interactive session each week. Exactly how this will be done depends on how many people sign up. I have not decided which email system to use yet but there will be the opportunity for discussion via email.
One big difference for you is that you don’t have to travel you can do the course from the comfort of your own home. Another is that you don’t have to attend class at a set time and place so you can fit it around your busy schedule.
Here is the most important bit for you i.e. what topics will this course cover? There is no man-made curriculum to cover as such so we can go where God leads us. At the moment I have some videos on getting free of the grip of money which sound very interesting. There are others in the same series that put an interesting biblical slant on the way money works. I want to include some material from a book called 31 Blatantly Ignored Causes of Poverty. I will also be incorporating some material from a course I prepared ages ago on Developing a Spending Plan. Then there are the materials I have on poverty vs abundance. Of course it would not be complete for me if I did not include some kind of challenge to the way we think about money and the opportunity for restoration to God’s best for us.
Notice thought that I said we can do where God leads us. I am open to suggestions of where that might be, not that I will promise to follow all of them. This is supposed to be adult learning after all and therefore a certain amount of negotiation is only to be expected.
Who should join me?
Anyone who wants to get their head around how better to respond to issues relating to money in their own life. The expectation is that as you are reading this is that you are in good standing with a local church and may even be part of the leadership team. You don’t have to be but you do need to be aware that this course has a very strong pro-Christian bias. That is why you will not find anything like it in your local college or other adult learning establishment.
If this sounds as though it would suit you then get in touch. You will then be added to the waiting list.
PPS The provisional name is The Money Eyeopener Course. The best I could do on my own was The Unexpected Money Course then I woke up knowing God wanted it to be a Money Eyeopener. That expressed the idea I was trying to get across so much better. There again if Jesus opened the eyes of the blind so why can’t His adopted sister.[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]