Rev. David Fekete
Due to some difficult financial issues I am being confronted with, I have been looking at the subject of money from a spiritual perspective.
Some people believe that spiritual powers will bring us prosperity. There are Christian ministers you can see on TV who preach that God will reward believers abundantly. They preach what is called the “prosperity gospel.” Some spiritually-minded people believe in something called The Secret.
This teaching says that if we manifest wealth, it will come to us. We put it out into the universe, and the universe gives us the material wealth that we want.
Jesus Himself said, “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it”* (John 14:14).
Luke gives us conflicting messages about wealth. Jesus’ birth story contrasts the wealth of the Roman Emperor with the poverty of Jesus and His family. It is rustic shepherds who see the vision of heavenly glory and the army of angels, not Caesar Augustus, the High Priests, nor the Sadducees. Jesus is born in a barn. Jesus’ parents can’t afford to bring a lamb to sacrifice when Jesus is consecrated to God at the temple.
In John, Jesus does say, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives” (John 14:27). Finally, Luke’s account of the beatitudes reads, “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of heaven” (Luke 6:20).
These considerations make me think Luke is not concerned with material prosperity. But Luke does say that our material needs will be met:
“Then Jesus said to his disciples:
‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.
Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!
And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.”
This comforting passage says that God will take care of our material needs. We need only not wish for extravagant wealth, and we’ll be OK. I’m holding these apparently contradictory passages in tension. I am in a difficult time, financially. My money situation is OK now, but when I look at the future, what I have now won’t be enough.
But then, we don’t know the future, do we? Luke seems to tell me that God will meet my spiritual needs only. Then he says that my basic material needs will be met.
I sure hope that means I’ll be able to keep paying my mortgage, my cable bill, my power bill, and my phone bill. But God knows what we can handle, and I think Luke tells us that we’ll manage whatever comes our way. In fact, we’ll prosper spiritually in whatever comes our way.
*New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Rev. David Fekete, PhD, is pastor at the Church of the Holy City (Swedenborgian) in Edmonton, Alberta, and senior editor of “Our Daily Bread” at spiritualquesters.org. His passions include literature, ecumenism, music and the arts, as well as interfaith dialogue.