|The Rev. Alisdair Smith, deacon at Christ Church Cathedral|
If Jesus talked about money, perhaps we should too.
I'm told that Jesus says more about money than any other subject. I've not done a content analysis myself, but let's just assume that the subject of money is in the Top 3 subjects in the New Testament and it is certainly more apparent than sex!
This assumption then of courses raises the question, why don't we hear more about money in church?
Some might say, well at my church, it's all that we ever talk about! I want to be clear here, I'm not talking about stewardship programs or the lack of money in church although those are important subjects. I'm talking about what you and I do about money, how do we earn it, what do we do to earn it, how much does it take up our lives?
More importantly, how is money, and work more generally, related to our faith lives? Put another way, I'd like to ask the questions, is it possible to be a "Christian" and "successful" at work (whatever that work might be)?
What might being both Christian and "successful" look like? And given the wealth so apparent in this city can a rich person actually get into the kingdom of heaven?
Interestingly, if my definition of "success" is having more money, or more material, then it will be impossible to be a Christian. Theologian Paul Tillich argues that our "ultimate concern" is in effect our deity: what I hold as most valuable is my god.
And another theologian, David Ray Griffin, notes that a basic human desire is to be "in harmony with that which is most important."
Christianity then, is about a particular ultimate concern and how we can be in harmony with it and the universe. Needless to say, that ultimate concern is God, and Jesus teaches us that we are to be in harmony with our neighbours in order to be in harmony with God.
At the risk of facetiousness, if my ultimate concern is getting a plasma television, I will find it very difficult, if not impossible to be a Christian.
The good news is that God knows this already and has forgiven each and every one of us. God is calling us towards God-self. And on that journey, as we lean to desiring God and not simply more stuff, that is when we might find real success.
A real "success" of creativity, of possibility, of love, of forgiveness, of justice, of the breaking in of God's Kingdom into the streets and alleys of this beautiful city. We are not about getting more stuff, we are about giving more love.
The question then for us wealthy Vancouverites becomes: how do I move more into harmony with my neighbours?
I have a small suggestion for each of us in our daily economic lives: in the words of St. Francis of
As I discerned my call to become a deacon, very wise people, my own mentors among them, would say, "ah, yes, the deacon, the bridge between the secular world and the holy world."
Within moments of my ordination however, I found that there weren't two worlds, there was only one world, different perspectives yes, but one world, and our lives were to be lived in it, working with God to bring about Jesus' vision of God's Kingdom, here on earth, as it is in heaven.
I hope in future to write more about the various perspectives of this one world, and especially perspectives on work, money and the Christian life.
If you have questions about money or business ethics, please email me at email@example.com.