A minister from a popular church released a book a few months back about wealthiness. I skimmed a good portion of it only because I had previously enjoyed the minister’s teachings in the past and I wanted to know what he was saying before I made any judgments. I did not read it because I had any interest in justifying riches or wealth in my life. I’ve always found the Francis of Assisi’s and Mother Teresa’s of the world to be much greater role models of faith than anyone trying to justify wealth from a Jesus perspective. (At the other end of the conversation is the full health-and-wealth-gospel, which I consider to be an anti-christ gospel as it is against the things Christ taught.)
As far as spiritual books on wealth go, this wasn’t the worst one I had ever seen. I certainly wasn’t fond of it and gave a lot of statements a raised eyebrow, but I have seen worse. Still, I was confused and surprised by all the comments of followers on his social media pages. People were overly supportive and few ever seemed to question anything he said. Everyone just celebrated his statements in a charismatic/pentecostal-kind-of-way—rejoicing that “a spirit of poverty” was being broken off of their lives.
But considering poorness to be a spiritual problem creates statements, like one of his posts, which said,
Poor people have an advantage over the rich because they can comfort themselves with the illusion that if they had money they would have a great life. The rich know better and have to live with the reality that happiness is an inside job… it’s not for sale at any price.
This statement has bothered me for some time and I guess it’s finally revved me up to make this post. After all, I work in an urban church where I’m surrounded by many poor people whom I have a special affinity to. After all, Jesus told us that when we serve them, we serve Him; so I hope to serve as many as I can so that I might catch a glimpse of Jesus (and hopefully vice versa).
That being said, I’ve been around impoverished people enough to be able to say that they have plenty of happiness and healthy spirituality without money. They’re not just sitting there thinking, “Gee, my life would be so great if I was loaded.”
In fact, many poor people are more spiritually healthy than those with money. When a man at a homeless event I did found out I was a pastor, he began preaching the most incredible sermons to me and couldn’t stop. It was as though he had memorized the entire Bible.
I’ve shared meals with the poor and listened to them expound upon the Scriptures after they had spent all day reading the Bible because they didn’t feel like God wanted them to stop. I’ve watched the poor volunteer in ministerial and nonprofit capacities that always catch me off-guard. I’ve watched poor people invest the little money they do have into buying food to cook and feed other poor people. I’ve seen poor people insistently try to return incredible sums of money given to them when they really need it.
So when statements are made that give the implication that poor people think money will fix everything, I just have to say that many of the poor people I know are quite spiritually healthy—even more healthy than the rest of us. In order to survive, they have to put their total faith in Jesus while the rest of us put the idol of money in His place.
I don’t have time here to cover all of the financial teachings of Jesus and the Bible, but in short, His wealth teachings led a man to sell everything he owned and give the proceeds to the poor and His health teachings led Himself to a cross.
Sure, in life as we now know it, we often need money to get by—and we can make good investments for the Kingdom of Heaven with that money. But if we are about Jesus, I think we’ll find that in the end, money is not all that important—and the more of it we have, the more our spirituality will likely suffer.
Now it’s possible the author I’m debating here would agree with me. After all, there’s not much space for clarification in a two sentence Instagram post and I’m running with it’s implications and not what was actually said—but we should look up to the poor and not down on them; for they have so much to teach us about Jesus that we in our wealth do not know. This is the true advantage of being poor.