Mike Glenn is not an economist, a fact he readily concedes, which may make you wonder why he then proceeds to attempt an economic analysis. When you read the book, don’t dawdle over this part. It is more of a rehash of political speeches than a picture of the economy. In fact, you could simply skip pp. 169-171 and be just as well off. The remainder of chapter 13 is very well done, except for overuse of the word greed. You will be hard put to forget the political definitions of the word, even though that is not what the author is talking about.
What is he talking about? Here is a selection
Gluttony – I don’t just need this. I need all of this.
Insatiability – I am hungry, and when I eat, I am still hungry.
Self-indulgence – I deserve the very best.
Avarice – I not only know how to make money. I know how to make money by hurting my competitors.
Covetousness – I have lots, but you still have something, and I need it.
Materialism – Don’t talk to me about things I can’t see.
Acquisitiveness – I have lots, but I don’t have that one.
Longing – I can’t die till I have one of those, and I think I will die if I don’t get one.
Craving – I can taste the essence and smell the aroma and feel the silkiness and hear haunting pipes and see that voluptuous shape.
Appetite – I will have it, and I will shape every day yet to come in order to have more of it.
Acquisitiveness – Tell me when the next new one will be released. I must have the first five.
Stinginess – I know I have ten of them I the cellar, but I might not be able to get another one. No. Find your own.
Selfishness – Just make sure that before anybody buys any more I get all I need.
There is a single problem at the root of all these attitudes and behaviors. Doubt. The opposite of Faith. Mike states it this way: “the hard truth [is] that … I am not completely convinced of the message of the gospel.” He doesn’t mean that he hasn’t received Christ as his Savior. Mike Glenn simply means that much as he believes that Christ has saved him from Satan, he isn’t quite sure that Christ is enough. For a pastor to confess this problem ought to comfort every reader who was starting to squirm at the message of this chapter. We are all human, and we all have our doubts, and our doubts about the gospel are at the root of our need for more and more new things. All those attitudes and behaviors that are listed above grow out of our doubt that Christ is enough.
If we really believed that God loves us so much he was willing to suffer and die for us, we would never doubt that we could share with people in need and still have enough. The rich young ruler is no different from you or me or Mike Glenn. He was so sure that he would starve if he gave up his wealth that he walked away from the Savior of the world. Mike confesses that, try as he will, he still does the same thing. Me, too. I can tell you right now that I don’t have the faith of that widow who put her last mite in the offering at the temple. I don’t have that kind of faith, even though I know for a fact when my next check will be deposited in the bank, and I know how much it will be. There are a lot of certainties in my life, but I cling to my budget and I always doubt that I can give anything when I am faced with real need.
Paul wrote to human beings who suffered from doubt, too. Just like me, they were not sure that Christ was enough. They had the same issues I have with want and need, and they had the same doubt that Christ loved them enough to give them enough. Paul told them, “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” With thanksgiving? If we listen to the news or to our political candidates, we would believe that there is nothing to be thankful for. If the Philippians spent much time thinking about Rome or the emperor or the corruption of the Roman government, they would not have had anything to be thankful for, either. Political leaders, secular thinkers, idolaters, and pure scoundrels all tell stories of present chaos and impending doom in every age. Unless we have the faith to give thanks for Christ’s love and care before we get around to asking for what we need, we won’t have the faith to ask. We will never hear Christ’s “Yes.” Yes, you have enough. Yes, I love you. Yes, I will always be with you. Christ’s “Yes” is the gift of his presence and his power and his life-transforming grace that shows us when we actually have enough.
Some people truly believe that they can count on Christ’s “Yes.” They trust that he will provide, and no matter how much he provides, they trust that it will be enough. Some Christians say “Yes” to Christ’s “Yes” and trust him for everything. Here is an excerpt from the Handbook of the World Mission Prayer League .
The Mission’s financial policy believes and assumes that God is faithful, and may be counted upon to provide in every way, both spiritually and materially, for the advancement of his kingdom’s work around the world. The Mission, therefore, does not curtail or delimit its activities on the basis of a formal budget, or pledged and calculated income. New workers are accepted, commissioned and sent without requiring that there first of all be money in sight to support them. No stated salary is pledged or promised to any worker wherever assigned. All workers in the Mission, whatever their location or position, share impartially in the distribution of living allowances made each month out of the general funds of the Mission.
Do you have the faith to say “Yes” to Christ’s simplicity?
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