Thursday, July 28, 2005

# 36: Desire Equals Poverty

“. . . poor yet making others rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.” 2nd Corinthians 6:10. What did the Apostle Paul mean by these words? It seems to be an oxymoron—note the first five words: “. . . poor yet making others rich. . .” He was poor materially, yet he had the ability to make others rich spiritually. When a person responds to God’s call, that is true riches. When experiencing that type of wealth, all other types of riches are devalued and placed in the hands of those in dire need, or with other means of giving God glory. “. . . having nothing, and yet possessing everything.” How can a person have nothing, and yet possess all things? It doesn’t take material riches to possess great wealth.

Paul’s devotion to Jesus Christ made him so wealthy spiritually that these spiritual riches were much better and more valuable than material wealth. Most modern commercial Christians cannot identify with that concept. To have little or nothing, or to be in need, has a negative connotation in today’s Christian circles; Christian people having little materially are falsely pitied. A genuine attachment to Christ has strange implications; again, that is not understood by most of us. In fact, I am not aware of any denomination in America that expounds this way of life.

The old alibi is this: why can’t a person have both money and God? It is for the simple reason that money and God are in conflict with each other. And when the situation arises, material wealth will always have the last say. I mentioned this principle in a previous post, so I won’t elaborate. I doubt that many, if any, will respond to this esoteric principle; nevertheless, I am inspired to write concerning it.

Now let me provide a short background on my personal life, and how this principle of “having nothing but possessing all things” has affected me. Again, my personal testimony will have no impact unless a person desires to experience what I and hopefully others are experiencing. I was curious about spiritual matters at an early age; don’t ask me why. I was raised a Catholic. I abandoned that religion when I was still a teenager. For a while, I was interested only in my secular work, and didn’t think much about spiritual matters. In my early thirties, after a personal tragedy, I started to become interested in Godly matters again. To make a long story short, I inquired at every possible denomination—independent church, cult, small groups, and whatever else there was—to find an organization that preached and taught the New Testament. All my efforts were to no avail. I knew I needed Christian fellowship and would starve spiritually without it.

All this time, I was never in any material need. I was, to a large degree, financially independent. Without any true fellowship, I trudged along seeking to learn more of God on my own. I knew what the Lord wanted of me, concerning my finances, but I wasn’t ready or mature enough to obey. Slowly but surely, it started to happen, first mentally and then in reality. Material things didn’t seem to have much value any more. Again, with no pretense, this was actually happening. Material wants were being replaced by spiritual values. The contentment I used to seek in material wealth wasn’t what it was trumped up to be. It did not fill my inward emptiness. Then, I realized there was something giving me more contentment with less of everything materially than I’d ever had. Now I am at a point in my spiritual experience where I can identify with the Apostle Paul, and I know exactly what he meant by 2nd Corinthians 6:10.

This didn’t happen to me over night; in fact, it is still happening. By being obedient to the above-mentioned principle, most of the other hard-edged Bible verses were coming to life. I gave up all hopes of finding a group that believes in the New Testament verbatim. But my joy hasn’t stopped increasing. I have come to the conclusion that DESIRE MAKES POVERTY, and that wealth and contentment come not from what one has, but from what one is inwardly. I started this blog as a means of sharing with others what I am now experiencing.

I came to the conclusion that many Bible verses cannot be understood until they are experienced. Contingent on experience, the Bible therefore is written in a secret code that only truly active believers can ever fully understand. Please send your comments and describe what is happening in your life. Are you completely satisfied with your Christian experience, or do you need the material world to supplement your joy and contentment? Thanks, and God bless!

5 comments:

Scott said...

Al,

I can totally relate to what you’re saying. In my testimony I told you that I had a love for money, the funny part was, I couldn’t keep the money; the more I made, the more I spent. I tried saving money – you know the 10% rule, but I could never get my savings up to 10% and even when I got my savings built-up, something always come along to wipe it out – so I worked even more, but it was always one step forward and two steps back. God actually used my daughter to bring me to Christ and she was only five years old at the time (now she’s 10 and can speak in tongues). We where moving from England back to the states and as we where packing, my beautiful little girl said, Dad, why don’t we go to Church (up to this point, she had never been to a Church). I replied, I don’t know I just never give it much thought, but I also said, we’ll find a Church when we get settled (in my head I was blowing her off, I didn’t really want to go to Church – I was the type of person that believed in God the creator but I wasn’t following Jesus at all). Of course later we got settled and she remembered my promise and of course I danced around it, but my wife intervened and started looking for a Church to attend. Anyway, we started going to Church and I just sat there and didn’t want much to do with it until one day, the pastor did something different. He wanted everyone to recite the prayer of forgiveness out loud and ask Jesus into our hearts and I did. Nothing happened (so I thought, at first) and I went about my business. And then slowly but surely I started changing from within, it started with music, I got very uncomfortable with the radio station that I listened to, I could hear the sex, rage, hate….so I tried to find something else and couldn’t so I stopped listening to the radio altogether. Then it was TV, I was watching the “70s Show” – like I always did and my heart start raging because of the drugs and the sex on the show, so I stopped watching TV. Then my wife started following the same path – we gathered up our CD collection and got rid of them all and then she found a Christian radio station for us to listen to – my baby Christian rearing was fed through Pastor Chuck Smith, Calvary Chapels California. Then together, my wife and I throw out the pornography that we had collected – that’s another story in itself. But Jesus taught us about the three strands and making love to my wife has never been the same again. Boy did I get off track, I’m sorry. Then God dealt with the money issue, at first I couldn’t get enough money but next thing I knew I had everything, just as you described – I was rich and counted all my blessings! But this is where things got weird, remember I said I couldn’t save a dime, much less 10%, but then not only could I save 10% (proverb 21:20 There is desirable treasure, and oil in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man squanders it.) but I could also tithed 10% too (Matthew 6:19 Don't store up treasures here on earth, where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty, and where thieves break in and steal) (proverbs 11:24 It is possible to give freely and become more wealthy, but those who are stingy will lose everything). God even showed me in his word how I was a slave to debit and he’s getting me out of debit also. Now this is where we differ, I know my Church isn’t perfect, but neither am I. I still give my tithe to the Church and in many ways I hate what they do with it, but God also states that Church leaders are held to a higher standard. God will separate the chaff from the wheat in the end. As for giving over and above, I try to make every dollar count and give to small groups bent on spreading the word. No my Church doesn’t follow all the hard edge verses, so I get involved with other projects like feeding homeless (food and the word). But in many ways you are right; most of our Church events are all about entertaining the “Christians” instead of finding the lost. Satan tries to point this out to me many times to get me to stop going, but then God lets me know that He has me right where He wants me (kind of like Moses playing in desert – He’ll fully mature me). When Satan tries to rattle my nerves, I count myself worthy because Satan really wants me back and he knows I belong to Jesus. Not all Christians are running the same race, you even admitted yourself that your turn around was slow, but you got there. You should take a hard look at your blog, you have a strong message and it’s a worthy message. I just wished you would identify the Church problems and give solutions to help fix the Church (in many ways you have already) and not flee from the Church – someone seeking answers may see this and use it as a reason to not get involved in Christ at all. You have my attention, the reflections from your messages were hard to take and it showed me that I still have a long way to go, but I want to take the Church with me – carry each others burdens. Please help save the Church – don’t flee from it!

roland said...

An example of a Righteous Church

The New testament provides a vivid description of Christ and His Apostles' efforts to Organize a church which had a threefold mission - Preaching the gospel to the world, encouraging the followers to live more righteously and bring salvation to their ancestors.

At the last supper and again during the 40 days after the resurrection, Christ turned over the leadership to Peter and the other Apostles. (He told Peter three times - "If ye love me Feed my Sheep" - the single most important mission for his disciples)

The first order of business of the Apostles (See Book of Acts) was to call a replacement for Judas Iscariot to bring their number back upto 12(!) Then they called for seven special assistants to run the administration the material affairs of the church (which included the martyr Stephen) so that they focus on the more spiritual matters.

In Ephesians 4 - Paul described how they ordained others as Apostles, Prophets, Teachers and Evangelist to help run this church as it is founded in town. Frequently we see Paul and the others would ordain local leaders (Bishops) to care for the branch before their departure to the next mission field. Most of what we accept today as scripture of the New Testament is in reality letters of instruction and correction sent by Paul, Peter, John, etc to the leaders (sometimes called Bishops) of the several branches of the church.

The prophets of both the Old and New Testament foresaw that this church was destined to eventually fail (See 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4). Back then the church leaders had a huge disadvantage - no email or phones or television or book publishing - and intense persecution from the Jews (religious), Greeks (Hellenistic culture) and Romans (civil Govt) But the many prophets of both the Old and New Testament prophesy of the coming forth of the Kingdom of God as one of the signs of the last days.

It is interesting to the lecture of the Pope Benedict XVI published yesterday (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0507290146jul29,1,5193409.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed)
"Pope Laments the Decline of the Western Churches". His comments fall well inline with what Al preaches in his blog - a) The pope was concerned about the "sharp decline" of the church in US and Europe. b) Concern about the huge rise in number of priests in Asia and Africa which seem to be primarily motivated by greed and economics (to escape poverty and become instant head of a "tribe") and item

He also talked about how his church lacks a policy to rescue people from Divorce and to speedily reintegrate members back into full fellowship in the church. The church leaders still have not acknowledge that sometimes - divorce is not your fault. In the New Testament many times Paul taught the importance of picking a good partner for marriage and not a person wallowing in iniquity.

roland said...

Hi Scott - Thank you for pointing me to 2 Corinthians Ch 6. There is a lot of rich stuff in there appoint these topics.

Verses 1-10 describe the many characteristics of a righteous ministers that Paul and his companions were themselves trying to emulate.

Verse 3 - Have no enemies (another scripture for Al.

Verses 4-5 - Enduring persecution for the word of God.

Verses 4-10 - Also describes characterists that would be signs of the True Church. (especially verse 7)

Verses 14/15- Pick righteous people for a friend (and even more so to be yoked together as spouses. And if you made a wrong pick the first time - how do you correct it?)

Verse 16 - Another scripture for Al - forsake Idolatry which today people seem to idolize their many wordly possessions.

Verse 18 - "And I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."

al thinker said...

Scott, thanks for your touching comments. I am impressed how your daughter got you started. God works in strange ways. Iam glad you have a church that you attend and feel comfortable with. But be careful. I suggest you comfront your church leader with some of those hard-edged verses, just to see how He/she responds. I hope many people read what you wrote. It was a blessing for me. Let me tell you a story about my daughter and how she responded to a question when she was only 5 years old. We were leaving a Bible study, and while in the car, I asked her where she thought God came from. This was her short and sweet answer: He made Himself. Believe it or not, I have stuck with answer whenever I am asked that question by an atheist. Thanks for your candid remarks.

al thinker said...

Roland, believe it or not,I agree with most of your comments. Thanks for your continued response.