Gospel of Luke and Wealth Term Paper

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Gospel of Luke and Wealth

No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.

You cannot serve God and mammon"

Jesus (Luke 16:10, NKJV).

The Testament of Judah (perceived to be second century BC) asserts that the love of money makes the one who possesses that "desire" to go out of his mind. Arland J. Hultgren, Professor of New Testament at Luther Northwestern Theological Seminary, St. Paul, stresses in the book, the Parables of Jesus: A Commentary, that the actions of the rich man Jesus identified as a fool because he choose to be rich rather than to be rich toward God, recorded in Luke 12:16-21 not only reflect idolatry but also practical atheism, recognized in Jewish tradition. The Testament of Judah also states that the "love of money leads to idolatry,' for those who are led astray by such love 'designated as god's those who are not gods'" (Hultgren 108). Paul warns in 1 Timothy 6:10: the love of money, not money, riches or wealth, "is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows" (Blue Letter Bible, NKJV). The Bible, the writer asserts, does not condemn a person for being rich, albeit. What does comprise a wrong, the Bible warns, includes the love of riches, money or wealth as well as putting riches before God.

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Term Paper on Gospel of Luke and Wealth Assignment

During the paper, as the writer addresses the research question: Can Christians be wealthy?, the researcher considers two historically diverse entities, St. Francis of Assisi and the Granger Community Church Granger, Indiana. In the Sermon on St. Francis and Christian Poverty, the Gospel of Luke and Wealth, Julie Greenan purports that St. Francis of Assisi chose to live a life of poverty and "had no programme for political or social reform. He simply sought to follow Christ and to love others…" (Greenan 2). The newspaper article, "Popular culture helps put people in the pews," quotes Rev. Mark Beeson, the pastor of Granger Community Church, to explain that the mega church uses its wealth to cater to people who do not typically attend church. In consideration of both St. Francis and Granger Community Church, the writer asserts that whether or not Christians are wealthy, middle class or poor does not contribute to their status of "being" a Christian, but rather who or what they choose to love and serve; whether God or money.

Supporting Evidence

Greenan makes a point not to romanticize the virtues of poverty and asserts that material deprivation caused by injustice and inequity potentially constitutes what Ghadhi describes as "the worst form of violence." Francis, however, willingly relinquished his wealth. For him, this action, in the end led to his liberation. "So for Francis, material poverty led to simplicity of life that was the greatest wealth, precious treasure, the pearl of great price" (Greenan 2). In the gospels Luke 18:18-30, and Matthew 19:16-30 and Mark 10:17-31, Greenan explains, the rich young man obeys the commandments, yet in his wealth, he leads a good life. Initially, Jesus appears to approving the rich young man as he tells him "he may gain eternal life simply by continuing to do what he is already doing. But the rich young man know that is not enough" (Greenan 3). Although the young man likely already knew in his heart what Jesus would him he needed to do, he persists in asking.

Perhaps in his spirit, the rich young man longed to be free. When Jesus told him that he needed to sell his possessions; that he needed to relinquish his wealth, that he needed to His let go of all that he owned; all that stood between himself and freedom, the young man "went away sad." The Bible does not tell the end of the story, however, whether or not he as Francis eventually followed through with the process of yielding his heart to Christ; following his heart and letting go of his earthly riches. Letting go, Greenan explains may sometimes be voluntary or the events that occur in one's life by prune and take away the love for material things that do not last. Ill-health or a person losing someone he/she loves as well as "the enduring sadness of seeing the suffering of those we love, by injustice, by a betrayal of trust" (3) may take away the love for things that separate them from Christ. A person may lose his/her home, security, job, or position in society. As an individual may be forced to relinquish things he values, he/she may kick, scream, curse, and/or feel torn apart by his/her loss and pain. Embracing the pain and letting it empty them, however, will help fit the person to be open to the healing and love Christ proffers, and transition them into vessels he can use to share heaven's riches with others.

Beeson explains that the massive numbers attending weekend services at Granger Community Church, typically 5200 each weekend, confirm that the church is introducing individuals to Jesus. In 1986, when Beeson started the church, his wife and three children were the only people present at a service he held in his living room. Instead of reading from the Bible and singing hymns, Granger Church implements the language, sounds, and visual media means of contemporary, popular culture, Beeson says, to reach those who are "unchurched." Beeson further explains:

"Basic change theory demands minimal overlap between what is and what can be. You can't communicate unless you overlap," he says, employing the lingo of communication studies. "We don't compromise the message. We use the culture to most clearly communicate the message." (Granger Community Church 1)

Granger Community Church, the 33rd fastest growing mega church in the United States, incorporates the arts into its ministry to raise contemporary issues and then uses the scriptures to lovingly address issues that need to be confronted. Beeson compares what the church is doing to replicate how Jesus illustrated his messages in the style of the culture. In the first century a.D., the people focused on farming, farm animals and land. In today's times, people focus on cars, computers, music, and movies, which Beeson says the church uses to share Biblical truths, similarly to the way Jesus taught.

Critical Reflection

In the book, the teachings of Jesus concerning wealth, Gerald Dirk Heuver reminds readers that the primary principle of the Old Testament's teaching regarding property or wealth is that everything ultimately belongs to God. As Psalm 24: 1 states: "The earth is the LORD's, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein" (NKJV Blue Letter Bible). Jesus also related the principle of divine ownership when he told the parable of the unjust steward" (146), Heuver notes, recounting Luke to remind readers that a person who is unfaithful or faithful with a little will also be unfaithful or faithful in much. As the quote from Luke 16:10 notes, however, no individual can serve two masters. Ultimately, whether rich or poor, he/she must decide whether to serve God or money.

The Life of Jesus in Luke

Craig G. Bartholomew, Joel B. Green and Anthony C. Thiselton (2005) assert in the book, Reading Luke: Interpretation, reflection, formation, that throughout the book of Luke, Jesus shows great compassion for the poor and the needy. "Jesus opens His ministry with the words 'The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor,' Luke 4:18" (245). Jesus' concern for the poor continues throughout the gospel. Throughout the book of Luke, Jesus focuses his attention on four separate classes of individuals including the poor, Samaritans, tax collectors and women.

Unlike some other authors in the Bible, Luke demonstrates a positive outlook, tolerance and treatment towards Samaritans and tax collectors. Bartholomew, Green and Thiselton (2005) explain that "Jesus' association with women was a 'stunning crossing of a social and religious barrier in the patriarchal society of his day'" (p. 245). Throughout the Book of Luke, Luke also shows great compassion and interest to economic issues, including the wealthy and those individuals living in poverty. Luke 1:53 relates an example of this: "He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty" (NKJV). Luke 6:20, 24, also records: "Then He lifted up His eyes toward His disciples, and said: "Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God," (Luke 6:20, NKJV) and "But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation" (Luke 6:24, NKJV).

Luke also tells the story of the rich fool in Luke 12:16-21 and in chapter 16:19-31 rekates story of Zacchaeus and the rich fool. In the Book of Luke, the author refers to the poor as being disadvantaged individuals, those who experience despair, including the blind, the lepers, and the maimed. Luke also refers… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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