It seems as if every month there's a new political hot button issue that the government and media are pushing as the next big thing everyone needs to pay attention to with a vigorous sense of urgency, but often at the expense of paying attention to other things that should be getting more attention. Bailouts. Fiscal cliffs. Obamacare. Government shutdowns. Debt ceilings. And of course whatever the latest scandal is. Well we should know by the now that the government and media typically work together like this hand-in-glove.
Although we recognize those two institutions operate that way, we as the Church should not be shifting and swaying our focus as often as news headlines change. Our primary attention should be on what God is saying and then responding to world events and activities through that filter.
So it seems as if the next new focus of the government and media is on the issue income inequality. Last week a report came out from Oxfam, an anti-poverty group, that stated "the bottom half of the world's population owns the same as the 85 richest people in the world." It included many other statistics that reflected how the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. If this income inequality gap is left unchecked, as the the report reads, "political institutions become undermined and governments overwhelmingly serve the interests of economic elites to the detriment of ordinary people."
Poverty is never a good thing and income inequality is real. And we need to address injustice wherever we see it. The Bible instructs us in multiple places to take care of the poor and those who can't take care of themselves. Further, we should seek justice and call out evil when we see it, especially when it's hurting people and causing them to be pushed further into poverty.
One thing we should not do, though, is automatically jump to the conclusion that God is angry with the top 1% and sentence them all to hell. Many Christians do this partly due to a misinterpretation of Matthew 19:24, where Jesus said 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. Like many Christians today who are still confused by what Jesus meant, his disciples asked him who could actually be saved (some scholars think they may have asked because they were men of means and were concerned about themselves, but that discussion is for another day). The key to understanding the "eye of a needle" scripture is actually found further down in verse 26, in which Jesus answers the disciples' question with these words, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
Jesus was saying that without God, it's impossible for rich people (and essentially poor people too) to attain the Kingdom of God. Why? Because...
Jesus was not condemning rich people to hell for being rich. He was warning them that without God as the primary pursuit of their lives, the allure of money and all that comes with it will lead them down the path of destruction. He is not going to judge the 1% for being wealthy. He's going to judge them if they have been greedy, selfish, hurtful, or idolatrous.
Well, the same is true whether you have money or not. The Bible teaches us that God has chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom He promised (James 2:5). If the poor don't put forth any effort do anything with the wealth of faith they have been given and stay in the same condition for all of their lives, are they not also just as guilty as the rich who take advantage of others?
No matter our income bracket we will all stand before God and given an account for what we have done with the resources we have been given. And whether we have had the equivalent of one talent or ten, $5 or $5 million, God is going to evaluate all of us on what we did with what He gave us.
So when you hear the government and media egging on this rich vs. poor fight, don't be so sure that it's an automatic answer of whose side God is on.
You can engage in conversations and discussions around these and other similar topics at Kingdom Business University Business Bible Study, Mondays nights at 7:30 pm. Click below to learn more.
What are you thoughts about the condemnation of the 1%?
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Amos Johnson Jr.
Brotha Online Magazine
Business as Mission
The High Calling