Wednesday, September 1, 2010

"God Wants You to be Rich."

Then why did Jesus tell people to sell everything, give the proceeds to the poor, then follow him? (Luke 12:33) Why did he say to not store up treasures on this earth? (Matthew 6:19) Why did he say that it’s very hard for a rich man to enter heaven? (Matthew 19:33)

No, earthly riches are not to be the goal of a follower of Jesus but seeking his kingdom, which will at times cost us everything we’ve got. Of course, I must point out that neither did Jesus say that he wants us to be in poverty since he continually pointed his followers to taking care of those in need. In fact,in the early church there were "no needy persons among them” (Acts 4:34) because they took care of one another.

“Jesus never said we shouldn’t defend ourselves.”

Oh but he did. When Peter sought to defend Jesus against those who came to arrest him by cutting off a man’s ear—Jesus told him to put away his sword. (Matthew 26:52) Jesus later told Pilate that if his kingdom were of this world his servants would fight to prevent his arrest. (John 18:36)

Jesus also said that if you draw the sword you will die by the sword. (Matthew 26:52)
Do not resist an evil person (Matthew 5:39)
Overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21)
Love your enemies. (Matthew 5:44)

How can you overcome evil with good when you only mirror evil back to a person? When one returns evil for evil, evil increases. (Further discussion is beyond the scope of this blog but trusting God for our protection or other eventual positive outcome is the only response Jesus accepts from his followers. (John 8:31)

“You’ve got to yell at the devil!”

“You’ve got to yell at the devil to let him know you’re mad so he’ll know you mean it!”

No. Man’s anger doesn’t serve God. (James 1:20) It’s the authority and name of Jesus that cast out the devil. Jesus “drove out the spirits with a word” (Matthew 8:16) Nothing fancy or loud, most likely “Out”. Some demons though, Jesus said, need extra prayer for a person to drive them out—not extra noise or anger. (Mark 9:28, 29) Simply “resist the devil and he will flee.”

Perhaps more importantly are some little known scriptures that emphasize our need to respect celestial beings—even the devil.

Jude said, “In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings. But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!" Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand…” Jude vs 8-10

Peter said, “Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings; 11yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord. 12But these men blaspheme in matters they do not understand.” 2 Peter 2:10, 11

So, it’s not a good idea to teach children cute songs that mock the devil such as the one saying, he “can sit on a tack.”

“It’s impossible to keep the Law of Moses”

In the 21st century and every century since 70 AD when the Romans destroyed the Jerusalem Temple—yes, since sacrificing at the Temple is a large part of the Law Moses gave (from God) to the Hebrews. However, to say that it was always impossible is to overlook a number of passages in the New Testament:

Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah (the parents of John the Baptizer) were upright, “observing all the Lord's commandments and regulations blamelessly”. (Luke 1:6)

The “rich young ruler” said he had kept all the commandments since his youth. (Mark 10:17-23)

Paul said that he, himself, had been blameless in regard to the Law. (Philippians 3:5, 6)

But those who followed Jesus learned “a new and better way” in the New Covenant of following Jesus’ teachings and coming under his atoning grace.