19 th Century Friedrich Nietzsche: What induces one man to use false weights, another to set his house on fire after insuring it for more than its value? What gives rise to this? It is not real want – for their existence is by no means precarious … but they are urged on day and night by a terrible impatience at seeing their wealth pile up so slowly and by an equally terrible longing and love for those heaps of gold. What once was done “for the love of God” is now done for the love of money.
Nietzsche foretold that money in Western culture would become its main counterfeit God.
But for us… A different question…. Do we ever say “if I had more money everything would be ok”? Does money have an unhealthy hold on us? Is it a counterfeit god in our lives?
1. Our socio-economic comparisons Strategies of the money idol
2. Blindness to our own heart Strategies of the money idol Greed hides itself Not so easy to recognise compared to other idols Not so many pastoral conversations
Jesus warns us about greed – often But we don’t think we suffer from it “This could easily be a problem for me” 2. Blindness to our own heart Strategies of the money idol
If greed hides itself so deeply, then none of us can be confident that it’s not a problem for us. How can we recognize and become free from the power of money to blind us? 2. Blindness to our own heart Strategies of the money idol
1 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. Luke 19: 1-10 (NIV)
5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. 7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” Luke 19: 1-10 (NIV)
8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19: 1-10 (NIV)
Col 3:5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Luke 12:15, Jesus says ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.’
What is greed? Luke 11 & 12, Jesus again: Worry over possessions Excessive anxiety To be defined by what you own and consume Personal identity based on money Luke 16:13, Jesus says ‘You cannot serve both God and Money.’
What do we do with our idols? significance security servants
What did Zacchaeus do? Climbed a tree – eager Jesus singled out this chief tax collector Humility rather than dignity Then grace rather than achievement To follow Jesus, Zacchaeus realised that money was an issue, hence the two promises
Zacchaeus’ heart had been affected Jesus said “salvation has come to this house” God’s salvation does not come in response to a changed life A changed life comes in response to the salvation offered as a free gift Jesus had replaced money as saviour in Zacchaeus’ life
Deep Idols Basic motivational drives that become idolatrous gives rise to deep idols: Power and influence Approval and appreciation Comfort - emotional/physical Control - security These generate different sets of fears and hopes – visible as the surface idols.
Things through which we fulfil our deep idols: Money Our spouse Our children Career Sex Relationships Surface Idols
Direct appeals to the surface idols don’t work. The deep idols have to be dealt with at the heart level. The way to change at the heart level is through faith in the gospel.
Jesus had infinite wealth, but if he held on to it we would have died in our spiritual poverty. 2 Cor 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
Jesus gave up treasure in heaven to make us his treasure 1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Money ceases to be the currency of our significance and security
Allow our hearts to hope that God can change us