Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Scripture speaks to Wall Street

Luke 12

16And Jesus told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop.

He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.'

18"Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry."

20"But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?'

I read over this scripture today, and I could not help but think of our friends on Wall Street. While need expands around them, they cut jobs and take public money while redecorating their office space.

Why are American churches not speaking out? Perhaps we have lost all credibility on the money issue.


Redlefty said...

Because many churches are focused on their own dwindling financial stability?

Bob said...

Be careful not to generalize, either about churches or people on "Wall Street."

My wife and I are educated. We worked hard for our educations. We both still work hard. I work for a bank and she owns a business. We are both exhausted by the time the weekend comes.

We have seen our investments dwindle. It pisses me off when I think of people like the ones you reference on "Wall Street" who have done what they have done.

But for everyone of them, there are countless others in all kinds of business, including banks and investment firms, who have earned money honestly and have provided jobs for others. And for the life of me I don't get why I, or anyone else who has made money honestly, has to be punished because of what these people have done.

In my church I have learned much about money, that it first belongs to God and whatever I have, I am to be a steward for Him. I should give it cheerfully with open hands, not necessarily to the church, but to those in need. We're learning plenty there, both from the leadership and from each other, about mercy and grace. Is it my church's job to speak out and pass judgment about "Wall Street"?

Andrew said...

Bob - It is fair not to generalize, but I do think it is the church's call to speak on these things. It is a prophetic tradition laid down in Scripture. I think the man who uses his "talents" for the furthering of God's Kingdom is blessed, regardless of the size of his portfolio. But when a person is wealthy with abundance, yet cannot think of anything productive to do with it... so he stores it (or redecorates an office to the tune of 1,000,000+) - these are the rich that Jesus calls out. These are the rich that James spends most of his letter addressing.

The thing is, Jesus is not talking about how the money was made... merely how it is spent. I think the Christian church should be speaking out that there is a moral compass for how money is spent.

Unfortunately, I think much of the church has bought into "the eat, drink, and be merry" attitude spoken by the like of a Limbaugh. Therefore, they have no voice to speak because their hearts resonate with the wealthy who pour out their wealth on meaningless fancies.

I do not think the church should be condemning, but rather aggressively calling these empty souls to something better.

Bob said...

Agreed, but I believe a lot of churches are doing that -- by teaching the Scripture, creating an atmosphere of acceptance, mercy and grace yet still calling a person to something higher and, indeed, to use his/her resources for the greater good. I realize there are those who are not but I think if you look hard enough you'll find some that are -- and probably some Mosques and Synagogues as well. As you well know, no place of worship is perfect.

The generalization that bothers me more is "Wall Street." It's simply not fair to throw every CEO of every major bank into the same category. Unfortunately, they will soon understand that they now have a partner in the Federal Government. God help them.

Andrew said...

I can see that Bob and I am not disagreeing with what I am about to say, just elaborating. Though it is not fair to all CEOs, this is the image Wall Street has at the moment; some deserved and some not.

I think public perception is something we all deal with. I personally am weary of having to work through people's misperception of me as a "Christian", by assuming I would align with a Dobson or a Benny Hinn. Good Muslims must be exasperated with being associated with the terrorists.

However, in each of our communities and subcutures, I think it is necessary for us to look at what is in our rhetoric and practices that have caused these negative elements to crop up. I don't want to merely disassociate myself from the group, rather I think part of my call is to help set a better standard.

In the same way, I think all of Wall Street needs to be taken to task. Yes, many may be doing right, but nevertheless there is something in the Wall Street culture and practices that is causing a sickness. Let's shine a light on it.

Bruce said...

We have offerings to take so we can't be prophetic. We have gyms, social halls and religious Taj Mahal's to pay for.

Bob is right.......we must be careful not to throw everyone in the banking business under the bus......

But......bankers and wall street exec's who operate morally and ethically need to be vocal about what is going on. The American public need to know that not everyone is a crook, thief, blood sucker.

Bob knows a lot more about banking and Wall Street.....but I will speak to what I do know..and it is not a generalization.....MOST Churches are silent on this issue.

While I hear a few prophetic voiced here and there........fort he most part it is religion as usual. The faithful must not be confronted or upset. Nothing must interrupt the cash flow.


Bob said...

Thanks to Bruce for his comments. And thanks Andy, for your blog. I enjoy reading it. There are churches, and leaders in those churches, who are still committed to teaching the truth even though it might make people uncomfortable. Call me a Pollyanna but I believe it.

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