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The Love Of Money

In our modern society, it is almost impossible to survive without money. The use of money has become an inescapable aspect of our daily lives. To secure food, shelter, utilities, clothing, transport or recreation – for just about anywhere we want to go and anything we want to do – a monetary exchange is involved. Whether by cash, check, credit card or online payment, most aspects of our lives are now regulated by transactional currency exchange. It’s important to stay on top of your credit as it can ruin your financial life, here is a list of credit repair companies if you find yourself in trouble.

What is the problem? Well, according to many public thinkers, there isn’t one. Common wisdom is that money is merely a placeholder for economic value; it simply serves as a technical fix that allows our modern economy to function. With the help of a regulated currency, goods and services can be exchanged in an orderly, efficient manner. Money is a fantastic invention that allows individuals to store and exchange the value of their labor.

But money has become so much more than that. In the thousands of years since the invention of standardized currency, money has consistently shown its ability to twist human behavior. Instead of serving as a means of exchange, we turn it into an end goal. Instead of seeing life as it really is – a pure gift from God – our monetary systems ensnare us in a worldview that reduces the majesty of creation and the details of human life to numbers on a balance sheet.

Money has become a sort of language. It has emerged as the communication system of an entirely new way of seeing the world: The entirety of God’s creation becomes capital to be exploited and property to be owned by individuals and corporate entities. As a natural outgrowth of this worldview, today every square inch of the earth is theoretically owned by someone. Every living thing, every natural feature – every rock, bird, mountain and forest – can be quantified in terms of economic value. Even people are measured in dollars and cents.

What effect does this all-pervasive economic worldview have on our lives? How are we affected by living in a society where virtually all of our activities are assigned monetary values? What are the long-term effects of a system that aims to operate entirely on the free market principles of calculated self-interest, where even human love is reduced to a transactional exchange?

For those of us who are seeking to live as disciples of Jesus, God invites us into another way altogether. As an alternative to the transactional economy of the world, Christ is teaching us how to lead lives of selfless giving. In the midst of a society that organizes itself around money, we are invited to receive the Holy Spirit as our living, breathing center. In a world that bows to the false powers of a human economic system, we can embrace obedience to the risen Jesus as our organizing principle.

The act of placing God at our center as a community has the power to radically alter our relationship with money. Rather than clinging to money as the only way to stay safe and in control, we find the freedom to use money to bless and empower others. Rather than being dominated by the dead hand of money, we are liberated to focus on real human needs and priorities.

What would happen if we redirected our focus onto showing love others, regardless of the cost or potential to get paid back? Would we still worry about those things that torment us now? Would we work the same jobs and spend our energy in the same ways? How might our lives change if we had the courage to renounce the false safety of money?

Our relationship to money is a choice. The culture of transaction is powerful, and it is backed up by almost all of the supposedly wise people of our generation. But God offers us an alternative that is based in selfless giving, fearless love and joy. Do we have the courage to risk it? What would it look like for us to develop and strengthen communities that embody the upside-down economy of Jesus?

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

– 1 Timothy 6:6-10

  • Shannon

    Micah, I have a question for you, one that I have been carrying for a while. So yes, we should do what we are lead to do, that is first and most important, but that leading comes into context with what we understand about the world.

    Money feeds people, though God co creates the harvest, if we want to feed the world we need money. Power shapes our world and even to the extent of the movement of love in our world. It is politicians that will decide about Gay marriage, the issues about the banks, welfare, they have the ability to create policy to shape our world the ability to declare war or cultivate peace. Even in Quakerism some power dynamics exist about money and resources – though when push comes to shove, spirit lead is the most critical, it is the presence of God in meeting for worship that allows us to continue to exist and that is only able to be encouraged by the holy spirit. On some fundamental level it feels that living a life of service and just following the leading of spirit are the right way to live life, it just feels really right, that the only thing I want shaping my life is the movement of love in a really fundamental way. However, I get stuck on logic – we need to feed the hungry, we need to help the helpless, we need equality, we need less war, we need to address global warming, those are all functions of power, of politics. how do the two combine? do they combine? It comes down to the idea of the messiah as a king or as a servant? We are supposed to be like Jesus, but Jesus could create loaves and fishes, we cannot. Service feels like truth, but can you explain the logic? A service worker cannot end poverty, stop corruption, force the banks, a politician can, and though activism has an effect for sure, but policy decisions are not made by us, but by those with power.

    The other thing about power is that it builds on itself, having money and prestige gives you access to more money and prestige, however accumulation of power and money seem empty, because they are, how delicious is it to give money away to others who need it or to help others. How wonderful is it to sort socks at a homeless shelter and how much less satisfying, though enjoyable, to wear an expensive suit. People respect you more in an expensive suit, invoking power and prestige can get you places where you can help people. However, one is about accumulation and the other is about giving and letting the self be shaped by love.

    It is one thing to say that we should trust God to feed us and to clothe us, if we follow the leadings of spirit, it is another thing to say that God will take care of all those in need and all those oppressed. Should we not help each other? Can you help me with my confused logic and spirit?

    If you have answers, it would be greatly appreciated! Hope everything is well with you Micah. Blessings and F/friendship, Shannon

  • Micah, I had a thought after reading your blog. The commoditizing of people in monetary terms is part of the human worldly experience. Always has been. People who believe in their superior genetics or power or anything over another – the commercialisation of even future money and people (markets, like agribusiness are focused on future population exploitation rather than present ‘feeding’). The largest corporations are built from futures – hence their tentative existence in the present monetary wise and there never ending legitimisation for actual things/resources in the present. Economically,symbolically and politically, Corporations are built backwards. People do not matter to money. Hence, symbolically, money is always a problem for people. And problems produce systems. And systems make money. Money values problems. A very good article Micah – our relationship to money is a choice. What would we do with all the money in the world, even if we personal thought it was of no value in itself? Giving it all away – would make money worthless, but change the world. But only for a hour or a day. Making money so hard to get, increases its value where itself is of no value (thats just business and marketing). Money is just a symbol as a way to keep score and maintain a social standing, either personally or country/national propaganda. Money is a small world of symbols. The people with the most money, tend to give the most, even without any spiritual reason. Because its good business and etiquette/rules or other. I am led personally to say that money, in a worldly sense, is required as a capital for people to be employed – in the industrial age. Money is not the main focus in the knowledge age in dispersed corporate thinking as it can be made instantly to values assigned to its future legitimising ‘products/resources. There are many loves in the world, as well as things that are said to be love and arent/or the opposite. the love of money is a difference towards a love for money and its capacity to change things in a worldly way towards a chance for spiritual illumination in everyone, if that be part of their lifes journey. In Friendship, Randolph