“Your god is greedy. I saw all the gold and silver you had stored up for him. That’s okay, we have greedy gods too.” said the Viking to the Christian monk. These words were spoken in a conversation between two characters on History Channel’s new series, “Vikings.” One of the Vikings made this observation after raiding a monastery and enslaving one of the monks. It’s strange that a heathen Viking could see so clearly what the monk could not, that in spite of being separated from the rest of the world by the monastery walls, the monk was actually very much a part of the world. He couldn’t separate himself from the world because the problem was not external; rather the world’s way of thinking was in the monk. He wasn’t serving the living God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but a heathen god like the ones the Vikings worshiped.
But before we get all haughty as we look at the foolish, worldly monk, I think we need realize just how easy it is to worship a “greedy god.” To be more specific, believers are often convinced that they are following Christ, but many times it is actually not He who has their affections but the almighty dollar. Over the past few weeks Father has been turning my perspective on money completely upside down. And let me tell you, it has been every bit as revolutionary in my life as was stepping outside of organized religion, if not more so.
Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” What really stands out to me is Jesus didn’t say, “It will be a bit challenging to blend serving God with serving money, but if you’re really spiritual you can do it!” He said we can only serve one and whichever one you chose to be devoted to will result in you DESPISING the other. No gray area there!
I’ve seen in my own life when I’ve set my heart on money there is a subtle resentment towards God in my attitudes. And I’m not even talking about getting all greedy and trying to become the next Donald Trump. For me it was as simple as trying to secure my life – you know, figure out how I could buy a house, take regular vacations, have a nice retirement. Oh, of course I would give to the things of God, who wouldn’t? But see, what is the bottom line of the pursuit of money? SECURITY! We want to be in control of our lives. We want to call the shots. We want to be the boss. We want to trust in ourselves and be our own lords. But when we set our affections on Him, we give Him control and we give up ours. We let Him call the shots and we yield to His desires. This is why Jesus said such radical things as when you go preach the gospel take nothing with you or when you give don’t let your right hand know what your left hand is doing. The issue is trust. Where is our trust, in Him or in our money? His heart is that we would live knowing He is our source and provider – not we, ourselves.
I used to think that Jesus wanted us to live this way because He likes to make things difficult. But as He’s been shifting my affections away from money and I’ve been setting them on Him I’ve been discovering something interesting. I’m happy. I’m genuinely happy. Jesus came that we would have life and the things He shows us are for that purpose. He didn’t share the things He did about money to make us miserable, quite the opposite.