How attached are you to the world? Ask yourself: if Messiah returned right now, would I want more time? I really believe there are many Christians today who would. I’m not condemning them, but rather I mourn for them because they are missing it.
This is particularly hard to deal with in Western society where success is measured by power, income, and material wealth. In the United States, we are brainwashed into chasing the “American dream” – even as Christians. Well guess what? For Christians, the American dream is a sham. I’m sure many of us have heard the “rich young ruler” story hundreds of times, rendering it somewhat cliché…but have you ever applied that truth to yourself?
This “American dream” has infected our theology; there is a sadly misguided but prominent worldview out there called the “Prosperity Gospel”, which says that God wants to make Christians rich. You might disagree with this standpoint, but in your heart you may actually subscribe to its justification: God wants to make me materially wealthy so that I can financially bless others. Now don’t get me wrong; I believe that this is the reason that some people are financially blessed, but it’s a burden of stewardship – not a goal to pursue!
If God has a mission to make all Christians rich, then why do so many of my friends in Haiti live in abject poverty? Is it that they are not really saved? No! Such a proposition would be brutally offensive and extremely erroneous. In fact, they are the richest people I have ever met. If you do not understand that last statement, then you are the target audience of this message.
Sidebar: if you have eaten more than once today — and especially if you’re reading this on your own computer – you are already considered financially wealthy by my aforementioned friends. Most of the people in our world are poor compared to the standard of living in America.
I believe there are many American Christians who neglect holiness because they take grace and salvation for granted. Many of us believe a lie that tells us we get saved so that we can go to heaven when we die [which is topic for a different discussion]… and in the meantime we should try our best to be good (so we’re not “bad witnesses”) while God helps us pursue our careers. Will that modus operandi work out for you? Probably, if that’s your goal…but Matthew 7:21-23 should concern you.
However, according to the Bible I read that is simply NOT the goal, and is far from the abundant life offered by an intimate relationship with Yeshua.
According to my Bible, Yeshua was born into poverty in an oppressed nation, grew up in a blue-collar family, and walked homeless during his years of ministry. He called his followers to sell everything they owned and leave their families in order to be His disciples. They didn’t even know the guy, but they did so immediately.
How readily would I do that? How about you? I believe it is beneficial to consider and eliminate whatever obstacles would prevent our willingness to do that, because they are rooted in selfishness, greed, and idolatry. Not everyone is or will be called to leave everything behind in this lifetime, but we should be willing to.
Are you like the rich young ruler, who was so attached to his stuff that he could not let it go for the sake of eternity (read Luke 18:18-30 carefully; he understood that his pious living was not enough)? Or are you like the apostles, who left everything because they were so captivated by the pursuit of Christ?
As for me, I was born American, and at this point in my life have not been called to get rid of all the possessions entrusted to me. So how do I reach that level of holiness [being set apart from the world] as a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven? I’m working on forsaking them in my heart.
Like me, the Lord may not call you to material poverty, but He is concerned with the condition of your heart. It is from your heart, after all, that your deeds come. Don’t clench your pennies in your fist; live with open hands so that you can both give and receive blessings.
To speak frankly, it is stupid to treasure things of this earth since they will all burn up pretty soon. I believe our Maker designed within us a desire for treasures, but those desires will be fulfilled in the Kingdom:
“Don’t collect for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. So if the light within you is darkness—how deep is that darkness! No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money.” -Matthew 6:19-24
I’d encourage you to keep in mind that a “successful” career may be your earthly destiny, but it is not your destination.