“I just want you to know one thing,” she said. “God elevates some to great positions so that He may use them to humble the wicked.”
“Ok.” I said, confused about what this had to do with the eight blessings I’d just spoken about. She used the word “wicked,” a King James word, so I suspected I was about to be spanked in public.
“You said being wealthy is evil -”
“No,” I interrupted. “I didn’t say that.”
“You said being wealthy and having a big house is evil and -”
“No,” I interrupted. “I didn’t say that.”
“Being wealthy and having expensive cars and a mansion isn’t evil and you-”
“No, I disagree,” I interrupted a third time. “Being wealthy, having wealth, is not wrong. Spending the bulk of that wealth on myself when 30,000 children die every day I believe was wrong – it’s not what I believe Jesus wants me to do with the wealth He’s given me.”
“But God gives some people wealth and that doesn’t make them evil and you-”
“I agree,” I said. “God gives some of us the ability to make a lot of money and that’s not a bad thing, it’s a great thing. But when I spent the bulk of that money on stuff for me I wasn’t following Jesus. If Jesus knew 30,000 kids were dying everyday from poverty would he buy a $60,000 car when a cheaper one would get him around just fine?”
“But God raises people to positions for his purposes,” she said taking hold of my hand and squeezing for emphasis.
“Yes, but can a president be president or any leader be a leader and still drive anything he wants? Position doesn’t mean possessions.”
She pursed her lips in frustration and the crowd around us in the lobby this morning started chiming in and I’m glad they did. I was beginning to feel like I’d swallowed a crazy pill, as if I’d said things I didn’t know I’d said, really awful things about rich people like me.
“He didn’t say rich people are evil,” one observer chuckled.
“God gave Abraham wealth for a good reason,” another added.
“But read the bible,” the upset woman insisted.
“OK.” I said. “In Genesis God makes a deal with Abraham. He tells Abraham He’ll bless him and make his family a great nation…why? He says Abraham’s family is being set up like this so they can be a blessing to ALL nations. Abraham’s blessed to bless. And that’s it. Does that help you understand what I’m saying? Being wealthy is a blessing from God, a blessing that’s supposed to be passed on. When we don’t pass it on we’re not following Jesus, a homeless man, who spoke more about the poor than he did heaven or hell and told us the kind of religion God wants is the kind that takes care of people. Does that make sense?”
The conversation kept going. She kept disagreeing and the crowd around us kept telling her she wasn’t understanding what I was saying. I eventually just apologized for not communicating well enough and she walked away muttering, “Well, that’s just not in the bible.”
God, I don’t know this lady like You do. Maybe she had a bad morning or we all misunderstood where she was coming from. But I admit, God, I want to pray for this lady and I don’t know where to start. I want to pray that her son is in a hospital bed someday like Gresham was a few weeks ago. I want her to think, just for a minute, that her boy might die. And I want her to imagine 30,000 moms thinking that everyday. And then I want her to calculate, the way I do, how many children could be saved by every dollar she spends on herself, and agonize over answering the question “How much is enough?” I want to pray that she loses her wealth and becomes poor. Maybe that would do the trick. I want to pray that she has everything she wants so she can discover, like me, just how boring spending wealth on herself is. I want to pray this stuff but I don’t think that’s what You want. I don’t know what You want right now. I’m wondering this morning If I’m the one who’s wrong. Am I wrong? Am I misrepresenting you? Am I telling the truth? Am I taking the truth too far? So I guess, God, help us both. But I don’t know how. Keep us somehow from hating each other while we argue about how to love You – how ironic. Teach us both what’s true and teach us how to live it and talk about it. Amen.