In which I’m rich

by Craig on March 30, 2011

 

Listen, my beloved brothers. Did not God choose those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he promised to those who love him? (James 2:5)

A rhetorical question.

Almost all the early believers were poor, just a roof over the head, food to feed family, and enough for the day – or the week – or a season.

The people they would consider “poor” would live on streets, beg for alms, survive on scraps of bread.

James wrote this to churches – so I ask, what might a church look like?

Math doesn’t understand me.

So, to make my math easy our pretend church is 100 people strong.

The church at Philippi had about 75.

Rome? It had far, far more, and split up among many churches.

The typical church that would read the Letter of James?

1 or 2 Roman elite, maybe. The rich would have liked the “living forever part”, maybe the “moral” part. But they weren’t big on the “meek inheriting the earth” part – and to hang out with the “hoi polloi” – it wasn’t normally their thing.

There would be maybe 16 slaves. They’d have no wealth to share but they’d be well fed and pretty healthy. In the Roman Empire they’d be maybe Eastern or northern European, or African, or Middle Eastern. The “neither slave nor free” part of the gospel? That part they would have liked.

The Roman Empire was suspicious of Christianity, and worried that this “kingdom” might try to grab power. But they had it wrong. The kingdom of God conquers hearts not thrones – although it doesn’t exclude hearts on thrones.

There’d be maybe 23 really poor people. I mean barely surviving poor.

There’d be about 10 middle class commuting types. They’d be trading people, bringing goods in, spreading them around, then off to find more goods.

And the biggest part of the church – about half – would be made up of mostly middle class merchants and some low ranking soldiers.

And to these people James asked, “Listen, my beloved brothers. Did not God choose those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he promised to those who love him?” (James 2:5)

With the exception of the one or two rich people, I think everyone would believe that this part of the letter applied to them.

Maybe they’d hear it and pray.

I did.

Lord,
You don’t care about rich or poor. Do you?
You care about the heart.

I don’t need to be rich to be happy.
Which is a good thing.
Because that’s not happening any time soon.
But being poor doesn’t mean happy either. Does it?

I just need to be yours to be happy. Don’t I?

Rich, or poor, or in the middle,
the place I need to be
is in your will,
wanting your will,
doing your will,
that’s my wealth.

I don’t have much.
But I have you.
That really is all I want at my very core.
I remember telling that to you decades ago.
I still mean it today.
You are my wealth.

The bells and whistles?
I wouldn’t complain,
although I probably would.
But it’s kind of a good thing,
to have so little,
but be so rich.
Thank you.
Amen.

God Bless You.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle March 31, 2011 at 1:14 am

“I don’t have much.
But I have you.”

Reminds me of a prayer of mine (usually as I am asked to pray for someone in a ministry situation) – “I am nothing, I have nothing, but all that I am and have is yours.”

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Craig March 31, 2011 at 9:57 am

I wish I would have written it the way you did Michelle – so much better than mine – “I am nothing, I have nothing, but all that I am and have is yours.” That is stunningly beautiful. Thank you for that. God bless you!

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A. March 31, 2011 at 11:51 am

“The kingdom of God conquers hearts, not thrones”…that is really good….and He promises only fixed hearts-not thrones (in this life), too. Having Him and His will is our wealth. That is a deeply freeing reminder that needs to stay among the front and center things. So, so good, Craig-thanks.

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Craig April 2, 2011 at 12:27 pm

That’s so true A. he fixes what matters – he’s consistent – he says the heart matters and goes to work on it – thank you A. God Bless.

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