One day, while waiting in line at the Sturgeon Bay WI Post Office, I looked at man in front of me and saw something amazing. It’s something you don’t get to see everyday—at least not me. This man not only had golden ear rings (beautiful) but he had a mouth full of gold teeth. They were bright, shiny and bold. When he smiled, I couldn’t take my eyes off his teeth. I couldn’t take my eyes off them even though I tried to look at the teeth, incognito! Do you have any idea how much those gold teeth would cost? BIG Bucks! (No pun intended)
Just two weeks before this, I saw someone walking by the windows of my church office. It was a fellow looking for directions to a job sight. I had never seen the man, or anywhere else for that matter. As I met him at the information booth, it seemed clear to me that he was sincere about finding directions, but then something happened that pushed my mental alert button. The man stood there looking into the glass trophy case at a bust of the head of Jesus made out of cedar wood. I mean he stared at the thing for about a minute. Then he said, “Do you have any idea how much that is worth? That’s beautiful! It’s one of the best I’ve ever seen.” Now, mind you, this fellow had gold rings on every finger but no gold teeth.
The man kept staring at the artwork. Then, he reached beneath his shirt and pulled out a huge gold medallion of the head of Jesus and said, “I carry him wherever I go. He’s the man!” Again, he stepped back to take another look at the artwork in the trophy case; thanked me for the directions and left in a broken down looking car. I’m thinking: “If I wasn’t here this guy would be casing the joint.” So, for the next few days, I kept my eye on that wooden bust of Jesus. It seemed clear to me that the guy was into wealth or at least showing he had some wealth.
There isn’t a subject on the planet that will get people more worked up than talking about wealth. People are very passionate about their material possessions, and when you start to get close to someone’s wallet, we are getting very close to their heart. But, in the fifth chapter of James’ letter, there is no hint of timidity as he challenges his listeners to think very seriously about who or what they worship as god.
We need to realize that up to this point in his letter, James has been speaking to the Christians. From reading the letter it seems that most of them were poor. But when he comes to the verses in chapter 5, it’s almost like he walks over and raises the windows on the church building. Then, he speaks a little louder so that the rich people down the road who aren’t in worship can hear him. He wants them to be aware of the future, because a view of the future has so much to do with how we live in the present.
What do we really worship and how can we stay away from twisting this into being just about money? Welcome to Minding the Gap with our money in the next few blogs!