Saturday, February 04, 2006

Rich Young Ruler

I'm spending a couple of hours this morning at the office, doing some work for a comittee I'm on at my Church. There's an incredible overlap between the two though (my normal job and my position on the comittee). Anyway, I brought a CD in with me that I've been listening to and enjoying all morning. The lyrics are incredibly well written. They're accurate condemnations of myself and north american culture/christianity, challenging us in our faith. They sting because he has written about things that I've realized about myself in the past and am working (slowly) to remedy, but hearing these songs I realize I've got a ways to go yet. And then he writes a song, which I've included below, called rich young ruler, which basically echos Jesus' call to sell everything and give to the poor. Just yesterday I had a real estate agent trying to convince me to buy a bunch of rental houses over the next few years and basically retire in a while off the income/equity after letting people pay for the houses through rent. Depending on the perspective, this could be seen as taking advantage of the 'poor'.

Where's the middle ground? Is there middle ground? Is that what's wrong, people like me looking for the middle ground so I can have a little from both sides... feel good about myself cuz I'm giving to the poor and looking after them (providing them cheep rental housing??), but at the same time ammassing enough personal security that I don't have to trust God to provide for me the same way he provides for them...

Just some thoughts.

I was reading Paul's letter to the Galatians this morning. Towards the end of the second chapter, after recounting a theological 'convention' that he and some church leaders had in Jerusalem to discuss things such as whether the gospel was for jews/no-jews, he makes careful note of the following:
They only asked us to remember the poor--the very thing I also was eager to do. (Gal 2:10)
After it was all said and done, after days of theological debate their parting words were 'remember the poor'.

Oh, the album is called "Mockingbird", and it's by Derek Webb, formerly of Caedmon's call.

Here's a sampling of 'rich young ruler':

poverty is so hard to see
when it’s only on your tv and twenty miles across town
where we’re all living so good
that we moved out of Jesus’ neighborhood
where he’s hungry and not feeling so good
from going through our trash
he says, more than just your cash and coin i want your time, i want your voice
i want the things you just can’t give me

so what must we do
here in the west we want to follow you
we speak the language and we keep all the rules
even a few we made up
come on and follow me
but sell your house, sell your suv
sell your stocks, sell your security
and give it to the poor
what is this, hey what’s the deal
i don’t sleep around and i don’t steal
i want the things you just can’t give me

because what you do to the least of these
my brother’s, you have done it to me
because i want the things you just can’t give me


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was saying to chuck the other day, that there are few things I believe in in this world anymore... one of those few things would be the stuff you expressed here. Your thoughts on rental housing are challenging. I think the challenge comes down to the decision as to whether you will be secure or continue living by faith. Collecting rent isn't necessarily bad, but making it a means to the end of a comfortable retirement, probably doesn't head through the narrow gate.

12:10 p.m.  
Anonymous Anthony said...

Three readings come mind from this. I will try to make them flow coherently.

First, regarding middle ground, I have been reading a daily excerpt book of CS Lewis where the last few have come from his essay "A Slip of the Tongue" (found in the collection "The Weight of Glory", which I have if you want to read it). It in Lewis makes the case for no middle ground, that you must commit to following Jesus. His analogy is of swimming: either you have the safety of the shallow end, or you go deep.

Second, the passage (John 12?) where Mary annoints the feet of Jesus; to which Judas complains about the price of the perfume; to which Jesus says that we will always have the poor.

Third, the book "Money, Possessions and Eternity", which I highly recommend, also discusses this. Somewhat tying in with the last two points, the author says that we must commit all of our possessions to God, but we still have stewardship over them.

So, in the end, it is a personal decision on how to spend your money. In the case of the young ruler, Jesus wanted him to sell everything because that is what Jesus saw that he lacked. That was his shallow end.

1:04 p.m.  

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