Money and Why God Doesn’t Care

I’ve been finding myself getting more and more frustrated lately with how people spend their money. When I hear stories of 2 million dollar church building projects, 50 thousand dollar pothole fundraising campaigns, the 40 billion or so Americans spends on their pets or just watching the local Wal Mart parking lot fill up with people before the sun has crawled its way to our side of the hemisphere I cringe. The typical responses are evoked from me like there are people in third world countries that would be much better off if only you weren’t so selfish. The local homeless shelter needs food before your potholes need to be filled and the list goes on.

The stories are endless. The outrage we all felt when we found out about the AIG bonuses spread quickly and we couldn’t believe anyone would do such a horrendous thing. We all feel ripped off when the government is bailing out major corporations. How dare they waste such a sacred, spiritual, valuable and important part of our lives. And in saying that previous sentence, is where I got the hint that we may have a problem.

If I truely want to hold the view that money cannot impart true and eternal value then how did money all of sudden earn titles such as valuable, sacred, spiritual and important? In our world, money is nothing more than a number on your screen or paper. There is no real value whatsoever in money. We give it all it’s value in how we treat it, how we use it and how we look at it. In looking at it that way, I’m fascinated that money holds such a power in our lives. Somehow all of our value and security comes from numbers and paper.

If this isn’t where our value comes from, if this shouldn’t be where our security, purpose and love comes from then why do I get so angry when its spent improperly? I am learning not to care about the numbers and paper like I used to. By getting angry and vocal about how poorly someone spends their money, I feel like I am only perpetuating a system that puts money on a pedestal as something that should be held with utmost respect and honour. Something I don’t think money deserves.

I have a feeling that this story and this story of Jesus pulling the coin from the fish’s mouth and him talking about paying taxes has a lot to do with how our theology around money should be shaped. Jesus is asked if it is right to pay taxes to Caesar or not and he said to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s. My understanding of this statement is that he could care less about what you do with your money, it’s just inanimate objects that’s only value is the value that we impart to it. However, what you do with yourself is what he is concerned with. Give it to God who cares about all these loose coins and what happens to them.

So I’ve decided (at least for now) that all the injustices that I cry out about over the bad spending of money aren’t as important as I always thought they were. My cry for injustice is more sounding like cries against disrespecting the God of money, a cry I can’t allow be muttered from my lips anymore. If anything, maybe I’ll just be concerned with how we are giving to God’s what is God’s and allow what is Caesars to hang out in the world of Caesar. It sounds better to me than trying to give what is Ceasar’s to God, cause apparently God doesn’t care all that much with what happens to it.

Giving, therefore–dumb, no-reason-for-it unloading of money–remains the only hope of a cure for the disease of money.
Robert Farrar Capon

9 Comments

  • ” My understanding of this statement is that he could care less about what you do with your money, it’s just inanimate objects that’s only value is the value that we impart to it. However, what you do with yourself is what he is concerned with. Give it to God who cares about all these loose coins and what happens to them.”

    Wow, I couldn’t disagree more.

    If there is anything God has a lot to say about in the words of Christ and the prophets, it is money. Particularly, God has harsh words for the wealthy who crush the poor with their boots. He says stop doing it. He says to the rich, stop shovelling money into your storehouses while the poor starve. Etcetera.

    I think the present injustices are indeed worth getting riled up about. A whole generation of 65+ers are getting screwed by their 401ks because Wall Street men are pocketing their money. That is sick. God is pissed.

    But I don’t think any calamity in this world is worth losing joy over. So, I appreciate your point that we shouldn’t obsess over all of this garbage when there is still goodness and beauty and joy to be found in the world.

  • But if we really look at the heart of the matter, we wouldn’t have to tell the wealthy to stop crushing the poor (for the sake of money) if the wealthy would have just given their lives to God.

    If the wealthy all sell everything they have and give it to the poor out of guilt or because it becomes the “law” then we really haven’t dealt with anything, they would eventually become the poor and more wealthy would step up and take on the roll of the oppressors.

    But if you have all who are poor and wealthy giving their lives to God, then people get taken care of, as opposed to creating a rule that the wealthy have to be nice to the poor which doesn’t really address the heart of the matter. Probably what Jesus was referring to when he said the poor will always be with us, it’s not that it’s not a good thing, but it really isn’t the heart of the issue.

  • Again, I don’t agree.

    People do not automatically become virtuous when they dedicate their lives to serving God. They become virtuous by doing what they’re told – what God tells them to do, to be more precise – and that’s exactly what it means to dedicate your life to serving God. Servants do what they are told. And God tells us to do a lot of things. Particularly when it comes to money.

    I’m not trying to be legalistic here and say that it’s all about rules. I’m saying you can’t carve the rules away from Christianity. Virtue matters. It’s part of becoming Christ-like.

    There’s no catch-all solution that simplifies everything. The specifics of virtue matter. It does matter what you do with your money. God cares.

    I’m not saying the wealthy have to become poor. But how they become rich matters – they need to do so without cheating anybody or taking advantage of the weak and helpless – and what they do with their wealth matters – they need to be generous and not self-indulgent.

    The financial crisis represents a serious crisis of virtue. It is a very bad case of the rich ripping off the poor. As such I think it merits righteous anger. But like I said, it’s not worth obsessing about to the point that all joy in “whatsoever is good” is lost.

    I think your position is extreme. I think the best possible Christian reaction lies somewhere in between angry crusading and laissez-faire acceptance.

  • Wow, NOT the blog I was expecting to read. Kudos for posting something I think needs to be recognised by many and kudos for faking me out. I enjoy surprises.

    Matthew, I think you’re way off. Servants don’t just do what they are told, not a “good servant” anyway. Christ told the parable of the servant that buried his Master’s investment and he was punished for not thinking on his own and working for the Master’s increased benefit.

    Nathan, I think you have nailed it. God doesn’t care about our money, He cares about us. Christ didn’t teach and sacrifice so we’d do the right things with our money, he taught and then died so that we could become the “right” kind of people.

    If the first thing we are about is being people that give their lives over to God, then all these other things, such as how we handle the money we have, will follow.

  • Hey Matthew.

    I don’t believe that people automaticlly become virtuous just by trying really hard either, or by doing what they are told. If we are really going to pick apart the language, we only become virtuous through Christ’s death and ressurection.

    With that being said, I feel like your last comment is very Old Testament driven, by law and rules. Even though you say your not trying to be like that, but all I hear is “here is a list of things that Christians do and you better do them.”

    Jesus didn’t go around telling people to stop doing bad things and start doing good things. He went around and told people to follow him. Then he told crazy stories to the ones that were following them that revealed more and more of the kingdom as time went on and slowly his disciples picked up on what he was laying down. He didn’t tell them to be servants so they would obey all his orders, he told them to be servants so they would become the least of these and become servants to all. It wasn’t an order, or even a rule, it was a statement of reality. “The first become last and the last become first.”

    We can agree to disagree on this one, but I say give yourself to Jesus and the rest will take care of itself.

  • I am not going to get into the theology of all this, but for the record, the current financial crisis is not necessarily about the rich ripping off the poor, as you so eloquently put Matthew. A lot of the people who lost money in this crisis did so because they put their money in investments that were looking at big and huge returns, in essence they were greedy. Not just the rich who created this investments but everyone who put money into it hoping to get a huge return on their money. There are plenty of guaranteed investments out there (GIC’s, Bonds etc) but that low rate of return of less than 5% pales in comparison to the monstrous sums that were being bandied about on Wall Street. But remember at the end of the day, greed brought about this crisis and on some level we are all responsible for it.
    Of note: it is nice to see you change your tune Nathan. I appreciate someone who is able to admit their view isn’t always correct and find a new way to look at things. The opposite of fundamentalism I guess

  • Damn you Chris for stealing my thunder.
    When I saw the “401k” comment I thought “investing in wall street is a Christian thing to do?”

    That whole system is based on a “retire someday and play golf your lasting days” mentality and while I am young and naive, I find myself vomiting at that “dream.”

  • Nathan, I’m a big fan of your blog and I agree with a lot of what you have to say here, if not all. However, i differ with you an your thoughts about the ‘two million dollar’ building projects. I think you kind of made a one sided argument and left it at that. As a member of the church in question, I can say that the heart behind the renovation is not just to have a nicer church building, or suck money from the congregation. I agree with the fact that this bourgeoisie, conspicuous consumerist, materialist, laissez-faire capitalist world that we live in is a disgusting and vicious system, and is a MAJOR stumbling block for Christians in North America to truly follow Jesus Christ. However, just because a church is renovating does not mean that they are part of that system, a little bit unfair to assume so, don’t you think? Anyways, love the blog man, great thoughts, lots of truth here, my friend.

  • Hey Jordan, thanks for the comment.

    The point of the post wasn’t to label the church in question and slam them. In fact, the post itself was calling out my own typical ideals into question. Typically I allow building renovations at churches like yours to really get the best of me. I could cry out against it over and over again and throw scriptures around about how its the exact opposite of what we are called to do. However, I’m beginning to learn that to cry out against the building project might be, in the same breath, giving the God of money a little too much respect. So I used the project as an example of something I might typically call out pretty drastically, and then said nothing more. This post actually, to be honest, replaced a post I was working on for a few months calling out the church specifically and asking them to stop their renovation. I decided that really, maybe money isn’t what I should be proclaiming demands respect, and rather something else.

    I appreciate your comment though, and I hope my broad generalizations (which I tend to do on purpose) don’t offend you and that you can always at anytime feel free to call me out (either on here or out for coffee) to chat about any of it and really hear my heart. It would be sweet if you and Jordan came back downtown sometime soon so we could grab a coffee and talk more design and maybe some church renovation plans.

Join the Discussion