I will never forget the statement of my brother-in-law after I had just purchased a car from him. He was preparing to go and live in Europe and had just disposed of his last major piece of property. He said, “What a wonderful feeling to be unburdened!” There was no particular spiritual philosophy behind that statement; just a relief that his last major possession had been disposed of. From an American point of view that truly is an odd way of looking at things. We always seem to identify ourselves on the basis of what and how much we own. We continually define our self worth in terms of dollars and cents.
But the Word of God mercilessly attacks such a philosophy of life on at least two fronts: 1) First of all, because of a terrible tendency toward a self-imposed blindness. In the Parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:13-21) we see this tendency carried to the extreme as we hear the selfish, miserly speech of the rich farmer dotted with “I” and “my,” “me” and “mine.” Jesus had to remind His audience that “a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 2) The second problem with defining ourselves by our possessions has to do with dependence upon God. There appears to be a relationship between trust and poverty. It is not a necessary one. There is no spiritual law that says a person can’t be wealthy and faithful at the same time. But the two definitely seem to fight each other in practice. The Apostle Paul learned about this the hard way when he experienced a weakness in the flesh about which he prayed fervently. He was told by the Lord that His (God’s) power “is made perfect in weakness.” That turned on some lights in Paul’s mind so that he could ultimately say, “I delight in weaknesses….for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).
All of this has a bearing upon churches too. We church leaders also fall prey to the temptation to define success by buildings built, record attendances and great offerings. But what about those of us who lead smaller flocks in little buildings? We must also understand that our relationship with God is not at all diminished by limited physical resources. The presence and power of God is there wherever God’s people assemble. We hope you are aware of that each time you drive your car toward our parking lot at CCF.
Senior Pastor of Cactus Christian Fellowship