This is not going to be a finger pointing invective, but rather something to make you think. In one of Pastor Bill Keller’s better devotionals http://liveprayer.com/ddarchive3.cfm?id=3060 (and an earlier version http://liveprayer.com/ddarchive3.cfm?id=2859), he explained why the bill passed by the “family values” Republican Congress that was elected with the votes of so many Christians was a total scam: that the politicians could do something of substance about Internet pornography but never would because it was a $12 billion dollar business that tons of “legitimate companies” make money off. Examples? The credit card companies and the telecommunications companies. What that amounts to is that every time you swipe your credit card or place a long distance call, you are contributing to the evil madness that ensnared Emily Sander msnbc.msn.com/id/22030368. Sure, it is indirect, but how indirect is it, REALLY? Our economy is so interconnected in terms of investment and profit that we have no idea how many levels of separation there are between a seemingly mundane commercial transaction on one hand and financing Muslim terror, the drug trade, organized crime, etc. on the other. The notorious “if you drive a gas guzzling SUV you are helping the terrorists make heroin” ad campaign of a few years back may have had less than pure intentions (especially since its creators were more interested in demonizing and antagonizing people who did not share their political beliefs rather than winning them over) but that does not make it any less true.
Now look, I am not calling for a withdrawal from the economy or anything, or trying to lay a guilt trip on people. Instead, I am asking Christians to consider the teachings of Jesus Christ as they related to money. Some preachers claim that the prosperity doctrine was part of the gospel of Jesus Christ: http://www.believers.org/believe/bel102.htm. Such a doctrine is only the logical progression from the longstanding doctrine in western Christianity that God blesses the pious with riches. Perhaps the most famous exponent of this doctrine was Norman Vincent Peale (see this God hating atheist point out the nonsense of this and a lot of other false Christian doctrines and the mindset that they lead to). Needless to say, I disagree! Instead, Jesus Christ told us not to desire material things, the things of this world.
The reason why I am not interpreting His teachings as a call to ascetic monasticism is because Christ’s teachings are put into appropriate context by Paul, who reassured Gentile Christian converts not to persecute themselves to distraction over whether they had unknowingly eaten something that had been offered to idols in I Corinthians. A radio preacher asserted that the context was that pagan temples had a habit of increasing their profits by selling the meat left over from their rituals to market, and it was impossible to tell which meat had been offered to idols and which had not been, so that some Christians were accusing their brethren that had unknowingly bought and eaten such meat and even brought it to their weekly communion meals and thereby defiling other Christians with it of having committed some grievous sin worthy of excommunication. Some were contending that the best way to avoid these situations was to become vegetarians, others sought to take refuge in the dietary laws of the Pharisees … Paul sought to rescue these people from persecuting accusers and being Judaized by reassuring them that God knew that it had never been in their hearts to commit evil.
The same principle applies to Christian who has to participate in our economy. God knows our hearts: that we have to work to support ourselves and use the money to keep roofs over our head, clothes on our backs, food on the table, and to support the ministry of the church and help the poor. In this respect, our situation is no different from the Christians that were living in the Roman Empire where virtually every activity was correlated to worshiping one of their many pagan gods. But beyond using what God has blessed us with to take care of our basic needs, that is where the trouble lies, especially if we buy things that we do not need for status or to provide happiness for ourselves and others.
Am I saying that you should not buy Christmas gifts for your kids? (Please do not introduce the “Christmas, excuse me, Saturnalia, is a pagan deception” issue into this … I am very sympathetic to it but that is not what this discussion is about.) Of course not. And this really is not about Christmas anyway, but rather daily Christian living. Whenever you disobey Jesus Christ by making unnecessary purchases, it is not only a personal sin, but you are contributing to the system of personal, national, and global enslavement to greed and materialism that causes physical death in this life and spiritual death in the next that the Emily Sander Zoey Zane story represents. When you are buying that trinket that you don’t need or even really want … you might have to consider that the guilt – tripping bleeding heart liberals are right … think about the starving children out there. Maybe your not making that impulse vanity purchase won’t save any kids from starving to death even if you donate the money that you were going to use instead to a good Christian charity. But at least you won’t be personally supporting an inherently unjust satanic global economic system with that purchase merely because you chose to disobey Jesus Christ. Disobeying Jesus Christ is no small matter. Sin has consequences!
Again, I am not pointing the finger here. The vast majority of the things that I deal with are areas that I myself currently struggle with or struggled with in the very recent past. For instance, I waste a TON of money on buying unhealthy food for no reason other than being too lazy to cook. If anything, I am WORSE than the next guy because I know what I am doing is wrong and I know why that it is wrong. And I am not calling for some grand sweeping lifestyle change here. The truth is that often the things that call for these big dramatic changes are often just for show to impress others with your expression of piety and have nothing to do with serving Jesus Christ. Instead, this is just a little something that each Christian can personally do to reject a little bit more of the world and thereby become a little more obedient to Jesus Christ.