Let’s talk about money

By Mike Littlecheckbook-688352_1280 copy

When I talk to groups of people about faith and money, I often start by suggesting they share their checkbooks and credit card statements with one another. I’m (mostly) joking, but I don’t tell people that right away. As I watch people glance at each other nervously, I explain, “Money is such a dominant topic in our scriptures that we have to get our money conversations ‘out of the closet.’” I know how to make people uncomfortable, don’t I?

In response to this suggestion one day, a woman adamantly objected. “My generation was taught not to talk about money,” she said, and packed up her things and walked out. There was an awkward silence. Then a hand went up. “I am a lawyer,” a man said (I was the one who got nervous then)—a divorce lawyer. He shared that in his experience, 85-90% of his clients break up due to money. “If we can’t talk about money in church,” he asked, “where can we talk about it? That has been the problem.” Exactly.

Screen Shot 2017-05-29 at 12.40.28 PMWe don’t want to talk about money. But Jesus talked more about money and its relationship to God’s way of life than anything but the Kingdom of God itself. Our story as a people of God is that we are all invited to live in this new realm that Jesus talked about, the Kingdom of God, which includes every aspect of our lives, including our money. Perhaps especially our money.

The question is, what does it mean to be the body of Christ? Especially in the midst of the huge disparity we see in the world, how can we be the family of God? How can we live in God’s realm now? We’ve been trained in our individualistic culture that our money, resources and lives are private, but that creates such isolation and loneliness. Instead, God intends for us to have community, to be community to one another.

Perhaps it is so threatening to talk about money because it has somehow become related to our identity. Our worth is connected to how much money we make and what we own. That is absolutely antithetical to Jesus’ teaching that our identity is found in community and our love for others and that our worth is found in God’s grace and God’s love for us.

We have learned to place our security in our money, and we certainly don’t want our indiana-1888207_1280security threatened. Jesus called the guy who built the bigger barns a fool because he identified his security in what he had in the barn. It’s no different for us. We say we want our barns full of God but we have one shed out back full of money, just in case.

If we talk about money in the light of our faith, it might require something of us that we fear. But spiritual growth always involves a risk.

Growth starts with an acknowledgement that we want to grow deeper. It starts with an awareness that if part of God’s family is suffering, then I’m suffering. As a Christian, I’m responsible to help bring the fullness of life for everyone, a fullness that includes people’s inward lives and their outward, material well-being.

In our churches, many people recognize this responsibility and are unsure about their plenty and wonder what their obligations are. We are often caught up in all the time and energy involved in “making ends meet” but realize that the deepest values that we grew up with in the church have been attended to poorly. When we can acknowledge that, we are ready to make some changes in our lives.

About the Author

Mike Little-photoMike Little is director of the Faith and Money Network, a ministry born out of the Church of the Saviour that equips people to explore and transform their relationship with money within the grounding of their faith. Many resources are available at www.faithandmoneynetwork.org. Mike Little can be reached at mike@faithandmoneynetwork.org.

Join us TOMORROW at 8 p.m. ET for a Live Chat led by Mike Little. During this chat, we will explore your relationship with your money, writing a money autobiography, making good financial decisions, connecting faith and finances, and more! There’s still room to sign up at marcia_5.gr8.com.

Photo credits: pixabay.com

Enough: a faith connection

By Dori Zerbe Cornelsen

“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today” (Matthew 6:34, ESV).treasure-chest-619762_1920

Jesus talks about the intimacy our hearts have with our treasure before he gets to reminding us not to worry. He encourages us not to store up stuff that that breaks, rusts, wears out and can be stolen. In other words, any stuff stored up is what captures our hearts and becomes what we love. It can take us away from what God intended in the good creation as abundance for all. Rather it becomes scarcity for ourselves.

How do we go from our hearts getting caught up with stuff and move toward the relational possibilities of abundance for all? Maybe it’s possible to journey into such an adventure of discovering enough with our friends, life partners, small group at church or dorm floor.when-you-have-less-stuff-j-becker

I keep going back to an inspirational story about finding enough in the book, Basic Trek: Venture Into a World of Enough: The Original 28-day Journey, edited by Dave Schrock-Shenk, Mennonite Central Committee. In this book Deborah Fast shares a story (Day 16):

Preparing for a three-year term of service in Kenya, my husband and I spent hours carefully packing. “If in doubt, leave it out,” was our motto, as we proudly fit everything into three boxes, two backpacks and various carry-ons. Almost three years later in Kenya, we helped a young Maasai man prepare for a year in Canada as an exchange visitor. We explained Canadian customs, food and weather. We also met at the airport to send him off.

We found Julius near the check-in counter. “Where is your luggage?” I asked. “Here,” he said gesturing to the small bag he carried. “That’s it?!” I exclaimed. “It’s not even full!” “It’s enough,” he said. But Julius also brought two vans, rented for the occasion, packed full of Maasai friends and relatives coming to say good-bye. Dressed in brightly colored traditional garb, they surrounded him with concern and goodwill.

This deeply moving experience has stayed with me. A young Kenyan man, carrying fewer possessions than I would consider “enough” for a weekend trip, heading off for a year in a distant, unfamiliar country. What Julius did carry with him was far more significant – the love, support and sense of identity embodied in the bright red, yellow and blue-clad throng of chanting, singing, and waving fellow Maasai.

Jesus knew that we would discover enough not by ourselves but in the company of others. The good news to which Jesus invites us is to imagine together what new and joyful options there are for living in the reality of God’s abundance. And as Jesus promises, when we put our efforts there “all these things will be given to you as well.”

About the Author:
dori_zc-abundance-profile-picture
Dori Zerbe Cornelsen is a Gift Planning Consultant with Abundance Canada, encouraging and inviting generous living.  She and her husband Rick live in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where lots of generous, warm people live in cold temperatures for 6 months of the year.