Think of these keys as tools to help you “unlock the wardrobe” and enter into the alternate universe of God’s economy in Scripture. We’ll discuss the following six keys:
- “God, Not Mammon” | | The Worship Key
- “One Table, One Baptism, No Distinction” | | The Community Key
- “Work and Wages, Gleaning and Giving” | | The Work Key
- “No Poor among You” | | The Equity Key
- “The Heavens Declare the Glory” | | The Creation Key
- “The Lord Has Given the Sabbath” | | The Rest Key
The first two keys, the worship and community keys, identify the way our economic lives are structured around love of God and love of neighbor. We’ll discover that the community God is creating is not a soup kitchen where everyone gets fed but a potluck feast where everyone brings a plate. In the work and equity keys, we’ll explore biblical themes and practices for bending our marketplace lives toward this potluck God is creating. Finally, in the creation care and rest keys, we’ll explore how God calls us to recognize and embrace his design for his world in the ways we pursue our economic lives. Practicing creation care and Sabbath will enable us to pursue the potluck in ways that reflect God’s design for his world.
“Where your heart is, there your treasure will be also.” We hear Jesus making the (true!) point that what we do with our money and resources indicates where our hearts are. We hear Jesus like a weatherman offering us a barometer that will measure our affections. That’s not actually what Jesus was saying. In this passage, Jesus doesn’t give us a thermometer to measure the temperature of our hearts but a thermostat to change the temperature of our hearts. He stands before us like a doctor offering us a prescription that can help heal our idolatry. According to Jesus, when we invest in the kingdom, our hearts follow our investments. If we invest in earthly treasure, our hearts will be in earthly treasure.
Moreover, doing good work well isn’t just part of the cultural mandate given to us in the Garden; it’s part of what it means for us to participate with Jesus in his reconciliation of all things. Theologian Al Wolters says it well: In the name of Christ, distortion must be opposed everywhere—in the kitchen and the bedroom, in city councils and corporate boardrooms, on the stage and on the air, in the classroom and in the workshop. Everywhere creation calls for the honoring of God’s standards. Everywhere humanity’s sinfulness disrupts and deforms. Everywhere Christ’s victory is pregnant with the defeat of sin and the recovery of creation… Second, work is the normal, appropriate means by which people ought to provide for themselves… Third, however, the Bible testifies that injustice often corrupts work by oppressing workers… Fourth, God’s people are called to intentionally create opportunities for work for the marginalized…
We are in a strange situation in the American church. Many of us have bought into an economic system in which we do not consider the wages we pay our workers or the availability of work for marginalized groups to be a moral issue. Many Christians believe it is legitimate to pay wages as low as a business can legally get away with. And then we shower the families of these same workers with turkeys at Thanksgiving and toys at Christmas! But the King’s economy is one in which everybody can buy enough turkey to share some with their neighbors. Far too often we have assumed that our assets, profits, and income were ours to handle as we desired, rather than gifts from God that come with the obligation to leave profits in the field to create space for others to work.
Tipping: Maybe sometimes tipping at 25-50% not 15% is one way to practically do gleaning today. What if this is a way to do gleaning and recognize exceptional hard work? Have these workers buy their own turkeys as they work hard and we do not take every bit of profit out of our own family business each of us runs. Count anything above 15% maybe in your tithe even though the government won’t recognize it on our taxes. It’s God’s money and his providence and his provision: “Without Yahweh’s ongoing provision, the wealthiest Israelite farmer never would have made it out of Egypt; how then could any landed Israelite possibly deny others the opportunity to participate in the community through work?”
Can we apply OT Scripure to today’s economy? Yes, 1. because in same covenant of Grace. 2. “As soon as we try to live toward the King’s economy in our own lives, though, we quickly find that there are some problems with trying to apply the gleaning laws and these other Bible passages today. Most of us no longer have fields. We no longer live in an agrarian economy. Nobody wants to glean in my measly front-yard garden. Moreover, at a theological level, we no longer live in a theocracy with God on the throne of our particular nation as king, lawgiver, and judge. What do we do with this tension? Probably the most common option is simply to ignore the Old Testament. But Old Testament scholar Chris Wright argues for another option. Instead of simply trying to replicate the laws of the Old Testament, we ought to see the laws of Israel as a “paradigm” that can inspire us toward faithful, creative action in our very different context.” P144. Kings economy
Your grass in your yard could be a “gleaning field”:
This has worked both when we have intentionally hired new entrepreneurs from our neighborhood’s entrepreneurship program and when people have asked us for money. When people do good work, we refer them to others. When they don’t do good work, we try to help them improve. Ironically, embracing this practice has forced us to give up some of our conventional morality from our middle-class culture, namely that good Christians should mow their own lawns. To be frank, at our income level, all else equal, we would. However, we have found that embracing this gleaning job creation practice has shifted our relationship with struggling neighbors from one-way charity to a more empowering relationship of giving and receiving. P155 KE. Other jobs around the house, fence, etc. What skills do you have that you have been paid for is a good question to ask so as not to go back to servitude.
Wealth building of others is a nobel profession for bankers focusing on injustice:
African Americans were excluded from the Homestead Act, a government program enacted in 1862 whose impact can be directly traced to the present. In 1862, the Homestead Act “permitted pioneers to purchase 160 acres of public land in the western US for a small fee after living on it for five years. A quarter of the current US population aged twenty-five and older has a legacy of property ownership and assets in their background that can be directly linked to this national policy.”9 Almost none of the 246 million acres sold went to African American families…
African Americans were shut out of our nation’s largest wealth-building initiative: FHA-backed mortgages.10 African Americans were systematically excluded from Federal Housing Authority–backed mortgages from the 1930s through the 1960s;…
Largely because of such injustices, median wealth among white families is roughly eleven times higher than that of black and Hispanic families. The Pew Research Center reports that as of 2013, the median net worth of white households was $141,900, while the median net worth for black households was a mere $11,000 and that of Hispanic households $13,700.16.
Sabbath isn’t simply “the pause that refreshes. It is the pause that transforms.”…
Second, remember that Sabbath, as with all the practices we’ve recommended, isn’t just a good action. It’s a transformative action. Sabbath is a school for desire. It shapes and transforms us. We too often hope to become healthier people who will then practice Sabbath. But Sabbath is a significant prescription God has given us to become healthier people…
So far, so good. Notice, though, what stands in the middle. The longest commandment, which pulls the two parts together, is the fourth—the Sabbath commandment…
This fourth commandment ties the two parts of the Big Ten together. The first part of the law is our duty to God. The second part is our duty to other people. This fits Jesus’s own testimony that the two greatest commandments are to love God and love neighbor (see Matt. 22:37–40). But right there in the middle of these two sections is the Sabbath, standing somehow as the glue that holds love of God and neighbor together. Indeed, as we shall see, the Sabbath is a day set apart for outrageous love of God and others…
According to John, Jesus’s death happened at the end of the sixth day. Just as Yahweh finished his work on the sixth day of creation (see Gen. 2:1–3), Jesus brought his work to completion on the sixth day. He finished his greatest act of setting prisoners free just before the Sabbath, and on that last Sabbath, he rested the rest of death itself…
I want them to experience deep soul rest due to the finished work of King Jesus. In the old covenant, we worked toward rest, as the culmination of six days of labor. Now that King Jesus has finished the work he was sent to accomplish, we work from rest.