Sometimes my mind drifts in funny ways when I'm trying to get to sleep. Last night I had just got home from preparing for my Johannine Literature exam and somehow I synapsed onto Jesus and money. I think the spark was Judas, but in anycase I started wondering exactly how did Jesus view money? And as I thought through all the pericopes that seemed relevant I was quite challenged.
Starting with Judas, the thief Jesus chose to keep the community purse??? Now how many of us are willing to let a known thief take care of our finances? I don't suspect many of us. But Jesus did! Alarming as that seems it gets worse. Asked about taxes - Jesus pulls coins out of his, uhhh fish - yeah that's right a fish??? Of course there is the famous render unto Caesar speach and the instructions to a certain rich man to give all he has away and come follow Jesus. I don't seem to be getting warm and fuzzy feelings from Jesus about money.
But then again, maybe Jesus has it right! (Yeah I know, novel idea.) Maybe our attitudes about money should be loose and full of grace. Maybe we shouldn't get upset when people rip us off? Maybe we shouldn't hold onto money like it is our saviour. This kind of thinking betrays conventional wisdom - and strikes me as unbalanced. But maybe what is unbalanced is my heart about money.
I am pretty loose with the coin. We were taken for about a grand by a con man last year and it didn't even register as a real loss - except the loss of what felt like a friend. I love to give, even sacrificially. And though I've had lots of fine scrapes, I've yet to go hungry or even to be that needy. I guess I take that for granted.
My wife, on the otherhand, bless her, she is the money watcher. She is the one that gets stressed about finances. I'm sure I'm hard on her that way. She is the one that goes item by item through every credit card bill. She's the one that notices that they overcharged us fifty cents on an obscure item and triumphantly gets the refund (spending more than that in gas on the way). Yup, we are opposites in this regard.
Conventional wisdom would look for a balance between the two of us. But does that sound like what Jesus was like with money? Even I wouldn't trust my money to a crook - although we tend to think of our previous financial advisor that way. Maybe we should have just not worried about that one - after all the stocks are still performing well??? Maybe that is the key here - not to worry. Consider the lily, consider the grass of the field, consider the crazy life of Jesus. A good friend of mine tells me that money is a test - if that is true then Jesus' life shows us how to pass it, and it doesn't look anything like what I expected.