When’s Pay Day?

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God saves us in work. 

Because work is crucial to our salvation,  Labor Day (a.k.a  Bringing home the bacon) is one important holiday.   We remember God’s faithful grace allowing us to feel his presence in work.

In work,  God showcases our gifts and talents.  In work we learn selflessness, duty and faithfulness so that at the end of the day, God can say to us “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”


Even though Paul said the love of money is the root of all evil,  Most of us are still deeply attracted to the power of money. The deeper my pockets, the better.  John Q’s economic philosophy is simple-if his expenses are $50,000 a year plus a 10% tithe and his income is $75,000, it’s up to him how he spends the excess dollars. But, what if he is an entrepreneur and makes $50,000,000 after expenses?  Is it up to him how he uses those funds?  If most Christians are like John Q Christian, I can see why God sends us prophets (e.g.  Balaam’s donkey).

Do the 1%  have an obligation to go help the 99%.  I think they do.  I think its the principle of looking for the lost sheep.  You risk all your resources for the one lost.  The same could be said for immigration. When the poorest of the poor need a home, the Judea-Christian thing to do is help.  We also risk the nation for the sake of the weaker nations when it comes to war.

Jesus asks us,  “What does it profit?”

Satan asks the same question, “What does it profit?”  When the people called Jeremiah a deranged madman,   Jeremiah cries out: “All the day I am an object of laughter everyone mocks me.”  Jesus’ family also thought he was mad.  When Jesus promised to raise a girl from the dead, the crowd laughed in disdain.

Most people are like me, they adjust their message the fit the occasion.   This is “part wisdom part madness”.  It’s wise because we shape the message of the Gospel very much like a cobbler design a shoe.  It has to fit the foot of its owner.  Every time we share the Gospel, we fit the message to fit the shape of the individual’s soul.  Unfortunately, I also change the message because I enjoy “being conformed to this world.” (Romans 12).   Paul’s solution for me is the “renewal of my mind.”

I live as though Adam Smith is my patron saint. 

When it comes to the profit motive, my mind needs a lot of renewing.   I live like Adam Smith is my patron Saint.   As a “Smithologist” I breathe its air, eats its food and live in its housing. Jesus told Peter, “Get thee behind me Satan.”  Jesus asks us to reconsider whether Capitalism fits the message of Jesus.

Jesus asks us every day, “What does it profit?”   G.K. Chesterton championed a view of economics referred to as distributism.  It’s not capitalism.  It’s not socialism. Its the middle way.  It fits the basic thrust of Jesus’ Gospel much better than either Socialism or Capitalism. John Ryan describes the profit motive in distributism.   He explains:

We can, therefore, lay down as the first principle of medieval economics that there was a limit to money-making imposed by the purpose for which the money was made.  Each worker had to keep in front of himself the aim of his life and consider the acquiring of money as a means only to an end, which at one and the same time justified and limited him.  When, therefore, sufficiency had been obtained there could be no reason for continuing further efforts at getting rich,…except in order to help others…. 

WHEN DO I GET PAID?

That’s the biggest question any economic system must answer.   Jesus gave us the answer in today’s Gospel:   “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory,  and then he will repay all according to his conduct.”

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory,  and then he will repay all according to his conduct.”

 

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