A couple of thoughts about the effect of wealth on people. Nothing serious, just some opining of two people who heard the same talk in church the other day.
We both noticed that with all the talk about wealth not being important in life, God sure knew how to pick the wealthy to help Him get established. The Bible makes no bones about making the point that Abraham was a well heeled dude. You can look it up. This guy wasn't worried where his next air conditioned camel payment was coming from. Abraham is not the only one of God's helpers who had a shekel or two to his name. It is striking how often we are shown in the Bible that rich people are the instruments of God's work.
Even Jesus picked people who were comfortable enough in life to be able to spare the time to help Him achieve His objective. True, the apostles left everything, but I'm convinced that their wives and other relatives took care of the patrimony while they were walking all over Galilee with the Master. After all, these people were fishermen. They were far from hurting. As Peter said, "We have left everything." Right on. You left it, but it continued in the hands of the extended family. I'd bet on it.
So,what's the secret? I'll tell you. Two things: Relationships first, plus, You can't take it with you.
Consider first what it took for the true followers of God to be considered righteous in His sight. They had to leave their country (birthplace, most times), their kindred and their father's house. They had to replace this with a sincere and loving intimate relationship with God. Abraham is the first true example of this. Through the ages there are many examples of exactly the same kind of heroic behavior in the name of God and for the sake of His Will. The Judges did it; the Kings; the Prophets; the Apostles and the Post-Resurrection disciples of Jesus. Some of them did it despite a rather high degree of economic comfort. Jesus, it is true, left a lot behind. Joseph was a craftsman. He could support a family. There do not seem to be any truly rich people in the Gospel Entourage, but there does not seem to be any real poverty either. What there is, is a complete detachment from economic comfort and a total dedication to making life spiritually more comfortable for the members of the community. When the emissaries of John ask Jesus, "Are you the One who is to come or should we await another?" We hear Jesus say, "Go tell him who sent you that the deaf hear, the blind see and the lame walk."
Yep, they were comfortable economically, but they were nervous about the well-being of their peers. Not so much for their own. They left their comfort behind knowing full well that it was gone for the rest of their life. So now we know what is expected of us. Use the little cushion of comfort that God gives us to make our brothers and sisters in the communion of saints at least as comfortable as we are. It starts with the recognition that we have to leave those three bold things behind to live in God's Country, with God as our Father, in God Our Father's house.
Tomorrow, some real life examples.