reload The Race by Maurice McCracken

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Possessions.com

posted by Little Mo | Permalink |
What would Jesus say to Michael Phelps, plus a talk at Liverpool CU on the rich young ruler plus Zephaniah has got me thinking about possessions.

It seems to me that the Bible doesn't say that being rich is wrong but that it is dangerous. The thing is about having stuff is that it makes you feel like everything is ok. So, I wake up in a warm bed, I go to my lecture and have a coffee, I hang out with my mates, have a few drinks. It doesn't feel like I am in desperate need of forgiveness from the great God of the universe. I feel like if there is a problem then I can deal with it.

Isn't that what makes mission to students so difficult? Most people don't feel any need because their material comfort has made them immune to the message that they need God to be kind to them. They don't feel that they need God's kindness!

Zephaniah is very similar. I guess a question for lots of us, is why so strong on judgement? At least part of it is the recurring theme of the people thinking they are safe because they have money, vineyards and wine! It all felt pretty comfortable. And it takes God's shocking description of where we truly are before him to wake us up from our money-induced stupor. (In fact, for those people, even that didn't seem to work!)

Once at a Christian conference, I heard someone ask the speaker on the issue of poverty "should you give money to homeless people?" The speaker looked them up and down and said "I think it would be good for you to give some of your money away." There is wisdom there. I'm not sure I'm listening or teaching enough on not only the great things we can do with our money, but how our possessions are a danger to us.

Incidentally, Bish, if you are reading this, where is your resource on money for students? We need it!

5 Comments:

Blogger dave bish said...

Um... someone gave me a job that nicked my time to write it. It's off the table for now. I am supposed to be writing an article on generosity for Theology Network which is about as much as you're going to get for now.

I'm loving that you're blogging though it's uncomfortable to read stuff as clear as this post.

2:48 AM  
Blogger Matt Finn said...

Hi Mo, I know I'm not Bish but I looked to try and find some data a while ago on the amount of disposable income students have and came across these from a student marketing research briefing group who wrote “Targeting Students: A Marketing Guide (2005)”. The original research is a little old now but still marks a shift in the student world.

________________________________________

“Compared with other audiences, the 18 to 24 year-old in full-time education is highly consumptive in various product sectors, such as cinema, mobile communications, music, internet banking, snack food, beverages and healthcare.”
“The shift of funding structures in recent years has turned around the 'poor student' legend; today many students have relatively easy access to cash while at university or college but become poor on graduation when years of debt-accumulation begin to impact and loans stop.”
Link
________________________________________

“In the UK in 2005 students contribute over £13 billion to the economy”
“A typical student today will claim their full entitlement of the Government-endorsed Student Loan before considering overdrafts, credit cards, personal loans and university hardship funds. And many will also receive regular cash instalments from their parents. On average they exceed their total income by £4,000 a year and finish university with over £10,000 of debt.”
Link
________________________________________
“The modern student lifestyle has accelerated the need for credit. Today's student has a 'live today, pay tomorrow' attitude and expects to live a full life at university. As The Guardian recently said of students: "They are now uniquely flashy, conditioned to expect a lifestyle of cocktails, designer clothes and en-suite travel."”
"The general consensus amongst university students was that they have accepted that they will have extensive debt as an inevitable part of their experiences. They do not treat loans or overdrafts as 'real' debt but merely as a long-term investment."
Link
________________________________________

3:00 AM  
Blogger dave bish said...

Matt, yeah that's been my perception in a student context. My year at Uni were the last to get funding and it seems every years since that there has generally been a diminishing of the "poor student thing" though it's amazing how poverty struck some get when invited to pay to come on a conference...

It's building up a major future problem debtwise. And I think we have to give students some serious guidance on how to budget well, how to avoid using overdrafts, mostly how to enjoy life without spending wastefully...

...which heading into single-income family life next year is exactly what we're facing in my household.

3:54 AM  
Blogger Matt Finn said...

Someone once told me that the two hardest things for a pastor to talk about are money and a biblical vision the role of pastors and leaders. Both risk charges of self-interest and challenge ideas about submission/authority and really the idols of our heart. People also say that money-talk is a cultural taboo for the British.

Yet if we don't let the Bible speak to us on these issues how can we really say 'Jesus is Lord' and it mean anything?

Dave your point about paying for conferences is both funny and tragic. Whilst we are told that we are defined by our consumption and students (seem to) consume church (even service as a 'growth experience') and yet give so little financially what does that say about where our hearts are really at? Then when people do give it's in the vein of 'supporting this organisation I like and receive things from' rather than seeing the issue as being about putting God first and loving him wholeheartedly in every area of life including money.

I'm speaking here as someone who feel like God is challenging me in this area!

5:35 AM  
Blogger Little Mo said...

To be honest, I think it's hard for Pastors to say "give your money to the church." If they could say "your possessions are at risk of harming you so get rid of some of them" that would be a good start. We seem to have bought into a Gospel where we totally ignore that as a risk to godliness.
It's as much a risk as having an un-supervised internet connection or spending time alone in your bedroom with your girlfriend - both of which I hear about quite a lot.

9:24 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home