We have always believed that in terms of understanding society in general and individuals in particular, Jesus was ahead of his time. However, there is a tendency for us to pick and choose what he said and taught.
Interesting that in his most famous of all recorded outbursts he lambasted the Pharisees. In Matthew 23 he said, ‘The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses. So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example, for they don’t practice what they teach.’
Reading on, it is clear that while the record opens with, ‘Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples...’ the Pharisees were there too, because he went on to issue his so-called ‘seven woes’.
But the point is, the allegation he levelled against them; ‘...they don’t practice what they teach’ could never be levelled at him. Dr Luke makes that clear in the opening words of one of his contributions to the New Testament: the Book of Acts, ‘In my first book (That would be the Gospel of Luke) I told you... about everything Jesus began to do and teach’ – do and teach, no inconsistency.
I say we tend to pick and choose because we what he taught about money, backed up by his lifestyle, is considered by much of Christendom as utter foolishness.
For example, ‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth.’ Think of the untold millions stored up by the churches; investment portfolios and pension funds that would feed the world’s hungry several times over, and yet their leader and founder said, ‘Do not store up...’!
And wasn’t it Paul the Apostle who warned his beloved son in the faith Timothy, ‘The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows’ – could that be why so much of established religion have wandered from the true faith?
I work as a debt advisor, and I see the results of an over dependence on money.
Of course we need money, of course we should face up to our responsibilities and pay our debts, but that’s not what we’re talking about here.
Here’s what the Apostle Paul had to say, ‘I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.’
What was Paul’s secret? ‘I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength!’