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 [revival] The FIGHT AGAINST MAMMON



"The FIGHT AGAINST MAMMON"

PLEASE READ FIRST! - by Marc White:

If Jesus preached against anything, He preached against mammon.
Estimates of the New Testament record tell us that the single
most recorded topic of our Savior is, you guessed it, money. The
most challenging issue to Christian community worldwide in our
time is the love of mammon and the fierce independent spirit it
breeds like a runaway deadly cancer. Jesus said it is impossible
to serve both Him and money. Impossible. No way. Although more
than a few of us are trying to do both. Let us repent of that idolatry.

Remember that story He told of counting the cost of discipleship?
Let’s look again at the “context” of the story, that is, what the “big
idea” Jesus was trying to get us to see:

Luke 14:25-33~
Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and
said to them, "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own
father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters,
yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. "Whoever
does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My
disciple. "For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower,
does not first sit down and CALCULATE THE COST to see if he
has enough to complete it? "Otherwise, when he has laid a
foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to
RIDICULE him, saying, 'This man began to build and was not able
to finish.' "Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in
battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong
enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming
against him with twenty thousand? "Or else, while the other is still
far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. "SO
THEN, NONE OF YOU CAN BE MY DISCIPLE WHO DOES NOT
GIVE UP ALL HIS OWN POSSESSIONS.”

What?

He didn’t really mean that, did He? As I’ve wrestled with this over
the years, it’s dawned on me and others who have pondered His
words here that it means SOMETHING. And that something is
something we need to deal with, to radically obey in order to love
Him and please Him as He commands.

The following piece by Eberhard Arnold is profound, and quite
unsettling to those who really care about what God cares about. I
find it both encouraging and disturbing to my life. To those in the
body chasing more and more personal significance and “purpose,”
it will most likely be dismissed as an old, out of date theology. But
Brother Arnold, who was a part of the non-resistant, love-your-
enemy Bruderhof, knew the secret of the strength when he penned
this almost a 100 years ago – Jesus in His simplicity of life in
order to care fully for those who needed the most care: the poor,
blind, lame, crippled, widows, and orphans.

Note I don’t advocate all of us living together on the same piece of
land, but let us not be too quick to discount the New Testament
value of close, daily contact, prayer, and servanthood. We see so
little of it in affluent Christian circles.

I submit this article to your heart for consideration. Let us not be
those ruled by the materialistic, aggressive, and demonic
American gospel. But in contrast like the rich, young ruler,
obeying Jesus by selling all to follow Him who saved us from His wrath.

If some of you vehemently disagree with this as you might, please
read and pray earnestly through the words of Jesus and Paul about
money before you respond.


"The FIGHT AGAINST MAMMON"
-Extracts by Eberhard Arnold.

Two powers are at work in the world: the power of love that leads
people to associate with each other, and the power of death that
separates people and destroys the fellowship of love. This power
of death poisons the organism of humanity, making it sick and
corrupt. It murders and kills. It covets and isolates. It attacks all
that holds life together. It destroys the coherence of all living things.
But alongside this power that murders and enslaves, a constructive
and creative power is still at work.

Not all who call themselves Christians are connected to the same
center, nor are they motivated by the same thing. The religion of
many who confess to the name of Jesus Christ has nothing to do
with God or the coming kingdom...

Is not the great world organization that names itself after Christ
serving a god other than the God whom Jesus confessed? Has not
the institutional church sided with wealth and protected it;
sanctified mammon, christened warships, and blessed soldiers
going to war? Has not this church in essence denied him whom it
confesses? Is not the Christian state the most ungodly institution
that ever existed? And are not the state and the organized church,
which protect privilege and wealth, diametrically opposed to what
is to come: God’s new order?

Nobody can serve two masters. Nobody can serve God and
mammon. The message of Christ had to do with the “trans-
valuation of all values” - the coming kingdom of God. His first
witnesses testified to a radically new order, an order concealed
from those blinded by the god of this world. This god - the god of
greed and murderous possessiveness - stands opposed to the
kingdom of justice, unity, and love.

Mammon is the rule of money over people. It means dependence
on income and finances instead of on God. We recognize that
mammon is the enemy of God, but we cannot apply the lever that
lifts it off its hinges: we ourselves are so dominated by it that we
lack the strength to rebel.

The deepest human relationships are based not on mammon, but
the spirit. No one of us can live in isolation; we are all
interdependent. All of us are interrelated in groups, families,
classes, and trade unions; in nations, states, churches, and all
kinds of associations. And through our humanity we are
interrelated in an even deeper way: through the love of God that
flows from spirit to spirit and heart to heart, leading to organic,
constructive fellowship.

But there is a devilish means that seeks to rob us of heart and
spirit and God. This means is money. Money reduces human
relationships to materialistic associations. It destroys the highest
human goals. At first it may be just a means of barter, but later it
becomes a commodity in itself. It becomes power. In the end, it
destroys all true fellowship.

Money and love are mutually exclusive. Where mammon rules, the
possessive will is stronger than the will to community. The struggle
to survive becomes stronger than the spirit of mutual help. Where
mammon rules, matter is stronger than spirit, and self-assertion
stronger than solidarity. Mammon never motivates people to work
in a creative way for a life of fellowship. Instead, it engenders the
enslavement of the soul to circumstance. It is the spirit of lying,
impurity, and murder, the spirit of weakness and death.

Jesus, the prince of life, declared war on this spirit, and we must
declare war on it too. When our inmost eye has been opened to
his light, it can no longer respond to what mammon demands.
When our hearts are set on the future - when we expect God’s
kingdom - we can no longer accumulate property. We will turn our
backs on everything present and live instead for freedom, unity, and peace.

Jesus entered the temple with a whip not to strike people, but to
show his contempt for money: his father’s house belonged to God,
not to mammon. In the Gospel of Matthew, he exhorted the
otherwise blameless rich youth to confirm his love by selling
everything: “Give all you have to the poor, and come follow me.”
And when he was shown the coin of the emperor, he answered,
“Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God.”

This attack on the order of mammon resulted in his death. Yet life
had the final victory. The men and women who had gathered
around him in life waited for something new after his death. They
waited for the Spirit. They knew that the spirit of love, order, and
freedom was the spirit of God’s kingdom. And this Spirit came
upon them, bringing about a church: a fellowship of work and
goods in which everything belonged to all, in which all were active
to the full extent of their powers and gifts.

This church succumbed to the process that destroys life. Just as
individuals die, so this church also died. But in the course of the
centuries a new church rose. Time and again small communities
were formed in which men and women declared war on mammon
and took upon themselves the poverty of generosity. In choosing
this poverty, they chose the richest way.

It is self-deception to think we can overcome mammon by violence,
for violence is of the same evil spirit as mammon. We cannot drive
out poison by means of poison. The new can be born only of the
new; only out of life comes life; only of love can love be born. Only
out of the will to community can community arise.

And community is alive wherever small bands of people meet,
ready to work for the one great goal, to belong to the one true
future. Already now we can live in the power of this future; already
now we can shape our lives in accordance with God and his
kingdom. The kingdom of love, which is free of mammon, is
drawing near. Change your thinking radically so that you will be
ready for the coming order! [~Lecture, 1923].


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SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2006/6/22 13:41Profile
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"Pilgrim and Sojourner." - 1 Peter 2:11

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 Re: [revival] The FIGHT AGAINST MAMMON



PART 2 - "The FIGHT AGAINST MAMMON"
-by Marc White.

It has often struck me lately that with the advent of electronic
media, email, and all the other modern marvels, we now have a
responsibility second to none. We affluent folks have the ability to
see the poverty and injustices in the whole world. What, therefore,
is the command to help?

1 John 3:16-17~
"We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we
ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the
world's goods, and sees his BROTHER in need and closes his
heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?"

The rhetorical answer is we don’t love God if we bypass the
obvious need in lieu of our comfort and convenience. One billion
people in the world (3 times the population of the USA) live on $1
a day or less. How much is that cup of coffee we buy on the way
to work? Two billion others live on $750 a year or less. Why do
we need a closet full of clothes when our brethren in Asia only
have the clothes on their back?

I once visited with a pastor and his wife in central Russia for an
afternoon. They were most generous with their meager food
supplies, and the sausage and bread tasted like a banquet. Their
income was $25 a month, or $1 a day.

We’re so quick to quote the “Love Chapter” of 1 Corinthians 13.
And a wonderful passage it is. But look at how Paul frames the
ultimate sacrifice:

1 Cor. 13:3~
"And if I give ALL MY POSSESSIONS TO FEED THE POOR, and
if I SURRENDER MY BODY TO BE BURNED, but do not have
love, it profits me nothing."

If you’re like me, you’ve probably encountered numerous saints
who have made all sorts of theological gyrations to get around,
under, or through the plain meaning. Notice he said is WAS the
ultimate sacrifice to give ALL possessions and/or our very life. But
the method must be in love. And if in love, it profits GREATLY.
That’s his point, I believe. Let us not miss it, or we miss the life of
Jesus, and perhaps eternity. Remember, he who seeks to save his life….

And Jesus Himself once again gives a general command to all his followers:

Luke 12:33-34~
"SELL YOUR POSSESSIONS AND GIVE TO CHARITY; make
yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing
treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys.
"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Next, we begin a story of how this is flushed out day by day by
those of us living in affluent places, or even poor places where
poor people can be every bit as covetous as the rich. We don’t
want to succumb to the poverty of affluence. Only by His amazing
grace will any of us make it through the needle’s eye.

STORY of a MODERN FAMILY

"Money and love are mutually exclusive. Where mammon rules,
the possessive will is stronger than the will to community... Jesus,
the prince of life, declared war on this spirit, and we must declare
war on it too. When our inmost eye has been opened to his light…
we can no longer accumulate property. We will turn our backs on
everything present and live instead for freedom, unity, and peace."

Jordan Hogan read the quote for the third time, swallowing hard,
wondering to himself if it was just him who felt butterflies in his
stomach over this article. I'm certain, he mused, that this is the
work of the Holy Spirit. I'm dying to know what Kristie is feeling.

Kristie, his wife, was really the instigator of this most holy work of
God. She had been reading a series of Christian articles entitled
"The Fight Against Mammon" that were given to her by a
disgruntled fellow saint in her home group that actually despised
these writings. The articles proclaimed that the love of money was
so widespread in the assemblies of Jesus in the west that this
demonic influence must be broken for ordinary people to truly love
Jesus and inherit His kingdom. Kristie had been gripped in her
heart of hearts because the articles described both her and
Jordan, her husband of 15 years. And she was the one who
broached the subject with her husband, and had left the articles in
conspicuous places around their lavish home in hope he would
read them. Her prayer was answered. But now, it became more
than she bargained for with her heavenly Father.

Jordan was even under more conviction than Kristie, it appeared.
They were having very spirited discussions on what to do with all
their stuff, their investments, their newer vehicles, even their fancy
home that they had fooled themselves into believing they'd use it
for real "ministry" to the poor. Their talks were often turning into
arguments as Jordan was now ready for action, a bold action he
declared to his wife.

They both were troubled over the last few years of their faith walk
that the fruit in their lives was minuscule. There was an emptiness
and lack of joy in their hearts that they had valiantly tried to fill with
many, many things. Home school activities for their children Seth,
age 12, and Ashley, age 9, didn't cut it. Their recent entrance into
small group home ministry in the lat to years soon proved to be
Christianity "light" with almost all participants talking about
themselves, their "ministries," and even sensing a void of
fellowship around how to serve the crippled, lame, poor, blind,
widows, orphans, and prisoners. Jordan even picked up an
acrostic to help him remember all the categories of the "least of
these." It was called the "CLPB – WOP," pronounced Clipped Whop.

Kristie tried the local church ladies group, taking Ashley with her.
But, alas and alack. Ashley had befriended a couple of people as
only the younger children can do. Her salvation in the last year
was real to all around her, and even her parents now knew that
there was something more to the Way than just a Sunday
meeting, a Wednesday night home group, and a ladies group
once a month. Ashley was asking to spend time with Quisha, a
young black girl she had met at a hotel pool a few miles away
while her cousins were in town. Not only that, but Quisha
introduced the family to her dirt-poor Grandma, Stephanie, who
was raising her, and to another black single mom in their run
down apartment complex, Lisa, who was recently abandoned and
then saved, doggedly trying to raise four kids under 8 years of age
on $18,000 a year.

Ashley and Quisha were now talking by phone frequently, and the
details of her economically hopeless life were being related at the
dinner table and in the car to her folks. Jordan and Kristie would
turn and look at each other, their hearts hurting for these souls,
wondering what they might do practically. More than once, Kristie
had cried herself to sleep softly with this burden not wanting to
disturb Jordan in the other side of their king size bed.

It was Jordan who first felt the direct leading on the Holy Spirit to
sacrificial action, or so he thought. As he approached Kristie, she
knew that look. The last time he had displayed that look to her
was when he was describing the greed and avarice of the owners
of the company he worked for as they ignored the desperate
economic plight of many of his female co-workers. She thought
she was ready for him now. But she had no idea.

He took her hand and began praying to Jesus. His voice became a
bit more loud than normal, then it began cracking with emotion as
he pleaded with the Spirit to give them courage to enter into the
battle for peoples souls. He pleaded with God the Father for grace
to stand strong. Kristie had never heard him pray like that before.
Never. The prayer went on for some time, a lot longer than Kristie
anticipated. Even when he was done and peered back into her
face, the look was still there. The kids were silently in the next
room listening to every word.

Things need to change big time, he declared. They were trapped
in the American gospel of affluence and had been seduced, he
went on. The kids were becoming yuppies, and the desire for more
and more was subtly out of control. Jordan proclaimed that they
couldn't compare themselves by their fellow church goers for
almost all were rich by the worlds standards. Kristie asked what
they should do, her heart racing now.

Jordan gushed over with a number of ideas. John the Baptist said
give your extra clothes away. Paul said be content with what you
have which means daily bread and basic housing. So we have to
deal with our investments, this fancy house, and these vehicles.
How can we, he said, store up these treasures on earth when
Quisha, Stephanie, and Lisa are all very close to being evicted
from their apartments since rent had gone up 30% in the last year
due to the "gambling" in the housing market. To top it all off, he
lamented, the girl's teeth are rotting out of their heads from poor nutrition.

Our clothes, $150,000 in investments, $200,000 in home equity
and excess furniture, and no time for outside ministry due to too
much time at work were all things that needed to fall under the
obedience of Jesus, he said.

Kristie was speechless. Was he going to do something stupid?
Do I need to call my dad the long time elder in the AOG mega
church to talk some sense into Jordan? What about the kids
education? Their vacations? The list in her head multiplied as she
added up what they would lose.

She went to bed wondering what the next day would bring. Oh,
more grace dear Lord. She felt like her whole world might just spin
right out of control. She wondered silently and yet shamefully why
she ever married Jordan in the first place. Why did she have to
read that article about the fight against mammon in the first place?
I can see now why my friend despised the article, she mused.

And a voice through the ages echoed faintly through her heart that
very moment, "And what will it profit a man if he gains the whole
world, and forfeits his soul?"


_________________
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2006/6/22 14:48Profile





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