It’s sometimes cliché for Christians to warn about the dangers of idolizing wealth and money, but the negative impact it can have on our faith is more subtle than we often realize. Here are a few ways it covertly manipulates our spirituality:
1. We Use It To Measure Our Faith (and the faith of others):
In a culture obsessed with wealth, success, fame, and comfort, Christians often use wealth as a way to estimate their own spirituality. We assume God’s blessings translate into material possessions and riches, and we profusely thank God for jobs, promotions, paychecks, and brand new toys, but then cry out in panic when these same things disappear.
Commonly referred to as “the prosperity gospel,” individuals — and churches — are susceptible to the misguided belief that financial strength equates to spiritual maturity — it doesn’t.
Most would say they don’t believe in the prosperity gospel, yet there are still some worrisome signs within mainstream Christianity. For example, mission trips often go to third-world countries to do practical service projects and work, but the assumption is also that these places are also spiritually desolate — but why do we think that?
We assume that poverty stricken areas are less Christian than wealthy areas — they aren’t. Why do Bible colleges have inner-city ministry degree but not suburban-ministry degrees? Why don’t we send missionaries to Scandinavia and other ritzy European countries — some of the most secular places in the entire world — but continually focus on poor regions? Maybe it’s because we subconsciously continue to associate money with spirituality.
2. It Creates a False Sense of Security:
Instead of trusting in God, we trust in our financial security. We do this because money is directly related to our jobs, our homes, our transportation, our food, our entertainment, and our overall standard of living.
Of course, God should be directly related to these things as well, but it’s hard for us to designate the same amount of importance to a faith that is sometimes unseen, intangible, and completely contrary to our cultural norms. Therefore, we rely on what we know best: money.
Instead of promoting a faith in God to feel spiritually confident, we preach that getting an education, finding a good job, saving, investing wisely, and being professionally successful is the best way to find happiness — but it doesn’t work.
Prayer is rarely seen as a way to promote contentment, but working extra shifts is. Instead of faithfully pursing the voice of God, we passionately pursue The American Dream. In place of trusting God, we rely on bank statements, savings accounts, and investments.
Today, we often don’t worry or feel stressed when we’re disconnected from God, but we start to freak out when our funds get low.
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Courtesy of Sojourners Magazine www.sojo.net. The opinions are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the Florida Conference.