Wealth and Worthiness

This is a post by Petar Nenadov, regional coordinator for the Ohio region of the Made to Flourish pastor’s network. 

What can Advent say to us about the integration of faith, work, and economics?

THE VISIT OF THE WISE MEN – Matthew 2:1-12

Imagine the scene as wise men from the east came to Jerusalem with extravagant treasures (Matthew 2:1-2). They came to worship with offerings of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They traveled a great distance to make an even greater statement. They wanted their treasures to be used to bring honor to the king.

Who was this king worthy of costly praise?

What a shock it must have been when they did not seek out King Herod. Everything Herod did was designed to make a name for himself. He organized large-scale building projects throughout Jerusalem to secure his reputation and demonstrate his power. And he became increasingly violent towards any that threatened his rule.

Herod accomplished much through forced labor and taxation, but not this. He could not evoke spontaneous, extravagant, and voluntary praise. He was feared, not loved. He was obeyed, not adored.

The wise men sought out Jesus, declaring Him the worthy king.

None of this was lost on King Herod. His deceptive and demonic response (Matthew 2:16-18) indicates his jealous anger because he was not the recipient of such extravagant praise. Herod desired center stage; Matthew introduced him as the backdrop (Matthew 2:1). Herod killed in order to strike fear; Matthew tells us he died and should never be feared again (Matthew 2:19-20).

Two kings: Herod and Jesus. Herod – wealthy and powerful; Jesus – humble and powerless. Herod possessing treasure; Jesus worthy of treasure. Wisdom begins here.

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Those seeking a biblical view of money, wealth, and possessions should take note of Matthew’s account of the wise men; their rejection of Herod and their praise of Jesus.

Our view of integration must account for the wonder of our Savior’s incarnation

In Every Good Endeavor the authors quote Phillip Jensen who said:

If God came into the world, what would he be like? For the ancient Greeks, he might have been a philosopher-king. The ancient Romans might have looked for a just and noble statesman. But how does the God of the Hebrews come into the world? As a carpenter (pg 37).

And then they add their own perspective:

Christians cannot look down on labor involving more intimate contact with the material world. Caring for and cultivating the material world has worth, even if it means cutting the grass. This also means that ‘secular’ work has no less dignity than the ‘sacred’ work of ministry. We are both body and soul, and the biblical ideal of shalom includes both physical thriving as well as spiritual (pg 40).

May our efforts to integrate faith, work, and economics lead us to the costly praise of Jesus and the prophetic critique towards the modern manifestations of Herod.

Scripture: Matthew 24, 2
Topics: Money & Giving
Church: Lakeside Christian Church, Akron

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