Richard Foster: Frantic Scramble or Freedom

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No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Matthew 6:24-25

“For Christ money is an idolatry we must be converted from in order to be converted to Him. The rejection of the god mammon is a necessary precondition to becoming a disciple of Jesus. And in point of fact, money has many of the characteristics of deity. It gives us security, can induce guilt, gives us freedom, gives us power and seems to be omnipresent. Most sinister of all, however, is its bid for omnipotence.

It is money’s desire for omnipotence, for all power, that seems so strange, so out of place. It seems that money is not willing to rest contented in its proper place alongside other things we value. No, it must have supremacy. It must crowd out all else. This is, I say, the strange thing about money. We attach importance to it far beyond its worth. In fact, we attach ultimate importance to it. It is tremendously instructive to stand back and observe the frantic scramble of people for money.

And this does not just occur among the poor and starving. Quite the contrary — the super-wealthy, who have really nothing to gain by more money, still seek it furiously. The middle class, who are really quite adequately cared for (and who are from a global perspective the wealthy), continue to buy more houses than they need, to acquire more cars than they need, to have more clothes than they need. Many of us could live on half what we now receive without much serious sacrifice…”

Richard Foster in The Challenge of the Disciplined Life: Christian Reflections on Money, Sex, and Power (San Francisco: Harper One, 1989) 28.

In my post yesterday as well as today, I am focusing on the deeper spiritual issues that hinder our service to God and our generosity. Our class was courageous to “go there” with Kuya Anjji and me, and I pray you too will go there with me in this post. The central spiritual issue that hinders generosity is idolatry to money.

You don’t figure it out until you live it out that the call to let go of it and to deploy to those with less than enough is a righteous response, a declaration of dependence, and the path to freedom. By righteous, I mean, it’s the right or obedient response to Jesus. We proclaim Him as Master and depend on Him rather than the power money alleges.

Neither Jesus in today’s Scripture, nor Richard Foster who penned these words, nor I have lost our minds. Crazy are the people (including many so-called followers of Christ) participating in the frantic scramble rather choosing the path to freedom. We must “go there” because it is Jesus who forces people to declare their allegiance.

Jesus speaks far more pointedly than I am in the heart of the Sermon on the Mount. In plain terms, he says, “Pick a side, and if you don’t choose to reject the side that everyone follows you have succumbed to serving it.” There have been many highlights on this trip to the Philippines. Among them was watching the students choose the pathway to freedom and life.

It’s fitting for today’s post to call us to serve God and not money as the title of my last series of talks with Kuya Anjji is “The Seminar About GOD: Governance, Obedience, Discipleship.” He came up with the cool title for this event at the Philippine Bible Society office. Pray for us as we facilitate discussions with ministry board members and administrators all aspects of the faithful oversight and administration of God’s work.