What is wealth? How would you define it? Why is wealth such a hot topic for Jesus but, by and large, ignored today? And even when we do push the topic we know deep inside that our sacrifices don’t mean much in a global economy where millions suffer and die from poverty. These sorts of questions either are provoked or emerge in my own mind as I read Telford Work, Ain’t Too Proud to Beg, chp 5. I’ve been thinking about this topic for a long, long time and this chp on “give us this day our daily bread” meanders through weighty topics deriving from this simple prayer.
Work speaks of the contexts for his thinking about money and wealth and possessions: heritage, metaphysics, culture, discipleship, testimony and providence.
Here are his two claims:
Wealth is providence insofar as its story is the gospel story.
Wealth is relationship.
It is neither reactionary (protecting and promoting it) nor progressive (transferring to those who need it). “Adam Smith’s and Karl Marx’s efforts to turn vice into virtue are just modern schools of alchemy … Why? Because the kingdom comes…. This is not alchemy but transubstantiation, judgment and refreshing, death and resurrection” (135).
“Outwardly, wealth is ambiguous” (135). So true. Here’s his best question:
“Is my retirement fund a big barn or an alabaster flask?”
The question I keep coming back to is this: What gospel does my money, my possessions, speak?
Money is cultural and a social construction. “A dollar is not simply a dollar; it is our relationships. We make it what it is by the way we live” (138).
“Wealth is made providence when God reframes it in the Kingdom’s righteous ecoomy, the Spirit renarrating it as the Father’s daily bread for the Son and all his charge” (141).
“The Church is not collectivist, and it is not individualist. It is personl, and therefore communal” (142).