The only way that we can live a successful life is to follow the Kingdom of God that Jesus taught. We all fail to live up to these teachings, and many times we believe that we are being resourceful in doing so.
Jesus says, “You cannot serve God and wealth” (Mt 6:24). We all want to believe that we can somehow overcome this statement of our Lord and seek wealth, but alas this command is true.
When Bill Ford became the CEO of Ford Motor Company there was an article in Newsweek that stated that he was an environmentalist. He wanted to build cars that did not smog up the air.
We all know Ford Motor Company did not do what Bill Ford thought was right. They decided to keep building big SUVS because that is where the profit was.
Ford is now very close to bankruptcy, because it did not build cars that are kind to the environment and use less fuel. Greed leads us to short-sightedness that in the end fails.
Greed makes people look foolish. Sen. John Edwards says all the right things, such as Jesus would not be happy with the wide difference between the rich and the poor in the United States, Jesus would not be happy with the war of choice we are fighting and that so many people are without health insurance.
He is a truth-teller, but his wealth makes him look bad. He lives in a home worth $6.5 million and paid $400 for a haircut.
Vice President Gore’s movie, “An Inconvenient Truth”, speaks truthfully to the dangers of global warming, but he lives in a house that is so large that it cost more than 10 times what my home does to heat and cool. That makes it much harder for him to speak to others about their need to conserve.
These people are all good people, who are caught in sin as all are. How do we keep from falling prey to the foolishness of greed?
Greed at it core is fear. Fear that we will not have enough for ourselves, so we try to gather all we can to protect ourselves from what ever may befall us. There is fear that we will not be accepted by others, so we must have big houses, big cars, expensive haircuts or whatever status symbol is in vogue too prove we are somebody.
I know many ministers who choose to ignore Jesus’ admonitions against greed. Greed is arguably the god of choice in the United States, and speaking against someone’s god can cause an angry backlash.
The risk of letting people go without warning when they live lives contrary to the Kingdom of God is great. The Kingdom is sure for it is God’s and there could be hell to pay. In the parable, The Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16: 19-31), the rich man ends up in hot Hades, because he had good things in life and he does not share with Lazarus, who in life had evil things.
Jane Bryant Quinn’s article “Dragged Down by Debt” in the May 7 Newsweek tells of a widow paying off her late husband’s medical bills, who has had to take out paycheck loans. After being unable to repay a loan and renewing that loan, her receipts show that she is paying 521 percent interest.
Congress passed a law that capped loans made to people in the armed services at 36 percent, but others may pay rates that exceed 700 percent. Sub-prime loans can double or triple a beginning affordable monthly payment, causing one in five people with such loans to lose their homes. A society that allows such practices as these has truly lost it way for it has placed profit above people.
The gap between the rich and the poor in the U.S.A. is the same as it was in 192, the beginning of the Great Depression. If this gap continues we will have a similar event or worse with violent consequences. The love of money is the root of all evil (1Ti 6:10).
Mark 10:21 states that Jesus looked at the Rich Young Ruler and loved him enough to call him sell what he owned and give the money to the poor. The church of Jesus should call for a society that would place people above profit, one that would limit the amount of wealth that one could keep for the sake of the wealthy.
Mark 10: 25 states the danger of unrestrained wealth: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
Larry Wilson is pastor of First Baptist Church in Biscoe, N.C.