The John Wesley Fellowship began in 1977, with Steve Harper and yours truly being two of the first John Wesley Fellows chosen. I have told the story of Ed Robb and AFTE this past Fall on the blog so I will not repeat it. Here are some of the senior fellows attending the meeting. […]
In our discussionof the ministry of Jesus in ‘Jesus and Money’ we pointed out that Jesus announced that the coming ofthe Kingdom involved the coming of the year of Jubilee (Lk. 4). And we can see further reflection of this notonly in Jesus’ general discussion about forgiveness but probably in the Lord’sPrayer itself where the disciple asks for forgiveness of debts, but this islinked to forgiving those who are indebted to oneself. Obviously there are some times and placeswhere it is a good thing to let a person work their way out of debt, especiallyif they had acted irresponsibly and run up huge charges on credit cards. But there is also a time to forgive debts aswell, especially when they have worked hard and circumstances have conspiredagainst a person even though they have made a good faith effort to pay offtheir debts.
The other side ofthis equation is about loaning money, and in our book we have shown very clearly how variousBiblical writers were adamantly opposed to lending money at interest, especially when it was one believer loaningmoney to another. It is thus inorder to suggest that one way to become a good witness and a better person isto ignore the old Shakespearean advice in Act One of Hamlet, which some havemistakenly taken as a quote from the Bible:
“Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all: to thine own self be true.”
Onthe contrary, we should look for opportunities to help others, and makesacrifices on their behalf. Lendingmoney is one way to do it, forgiving a debt is another way to practicegenerosity in the body of Christ. As wehave seen, the Bible is all about ‘giving with no thought of return’. But then if it is giving, it is not merely lending now is it?
But you may ask— how can I afford to be this generous? I’m glad you asked.
The goal here is to cultivate the same giving and generous spirit we seein Jesus and various of his earliest followers. The emphasis on giving with no thought of return is and shouldbe seen as a challenge to reciprocity conventions and the whole paybackmentality. And Jesus even urged giving toone’s enemies with no thought of return. It reminds me of bumper sticker I sawrecently— “Love your enemies. It willconfuse them.”
Jesus and the NTcall us to a counter-cultural, and in some cases a counter-intuitive, Kingdomethic when it comes to money, wealth, sacrificial giving, work, andremuneration. Instead of baptizing his own culture’s basic assumptions aboutmoney and wealth, Jesus was constantly challenging those assumptions, and weshould do likewise.