Steven Waldman Interviews Rick Warren

Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church and author of "The Purpose of Christmas," spoke with Beliefnet Editor-in-Chief Steven Waldman at the offices of our partner, The Wall Street Journal.

Continued from page 8

But it’s because we’re ignoring the very principles that made America great… the Judeo-Christian principles in scripture that teach thrift, savings, being wise, saving in the summer for the winter -- everything we haven’t done.

The other thing is that we’ve had people in previous years who were simply about wealth acquisition without creation of value. A guy who makes two million dollars in a day and doesn’t add anything of value to society – that’s phony money in my opinion. It’s not real wealth. It’s not like a guy who’s created a product or a service and that is really making the world a better place and he should be paid for it....

Well I believe that money is the ultimate test of faith. It’s actually, I think God tests your faith in finances more than any other area. Jesus, of the parables he told, over half of them deal with money. In fact, Jesus talked more about money than he did Heaven or Hell. And the reason why is because we spend more of our time making it, worrying about it, saving it, spending it, investing it. Our lives revolve around it and so he dealt with this and he said, “a man’s life doesn’t consist in the abundance of things he possessed.” In other words: the greatest things in life aren’t things. But there’s an interesting verse, one of the most misunderstood verses in the Bible, it says that God will “test you.” He says he “tests you in little things and he tests you in that which is not your own.” And he says, “if you have not been faithful, with unrighteous mammon – or ‘worldly wealth’ is what he is talking about--God will not trust you with the true spiritual riches in Heaven. And I think that actually money management, just like time management, is a test of our stewardship.

Think about this: Why are we even here, on this planet? Why, if God ultimately wants us in Heaven, why didn’t he just make us and take us to Heaven? Why does he put us here, for 80 years on a planet filled with all kinds of problems? Why didn’t he just make us and skip this part and go directly—you know, ‘do not pass go, just go straight to jail—just go straight to Heaven. Well, the Bible tells us that life is a test, it’s a trust, and it’s a temporary assignment. And this, in many ways, is preparation for eternity and God is testing our stewardship here on earth. And I think that one day, everyone of us is gonna stand before God and he’s not gonna say, “What religion were you? Were you Jewish? Were you Christian? Were you Buddhist? Baptist?” I don’t think he’s gonna say, “What church did you go to?” I think he’s gonna say first thing, first, “What did you do with my son who I sent to earth? Did you ever really get to know him? Did you even check him out? Did you trial test faith in him?” You know, “What did you do?” It’s about a relationship not a religion. And the second question is gonna be the question of, “What did you do with what I gave you? The talent, the ability, the resources, the network, the opportunities, the health, the freedom?” And we are going to be evaluated and judged NOT on our relationship to other people, in terms of, ‘well he did better and he did worse,’ but what did you do with what you were given. So, a retarded person, who does not have mental capabilities will be judged on a totally different scale. In fact the Bible says that people who don’t even have the ability to acknowledge God or to accept Christ, that they’re safe. They are safe. That’s why I believe babies automatically go to Heaven. Every baby does go to Heaven.

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