Friday

a goodly investment

bad church signs can be cutesy, trite, smug, antagonistic, or theologically unsound, and they pretty much drive me crazy. this is the most recent "offender" i've noticed:



the economy is bad, people have money on the brain, and i understand the desire for the church to be "relevant," but this is not a good metaphor. think of it: money is valuable, Jesus is really valuable, so Jesus is like money, only better! it's crass.

the idea of God as treasure is a popular motif in praise songs, and as Christians we certainly value Christ above all, but the comparisons to gold that i found in scripture were certainly more nuanced than the sign:

God's law
The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous.
They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold (Psalm 19:9-10)

The law from your mouth is more precious to me
than thousands of pieces of silver and gold (Psalm 119:72)

I love your commands more than gold, more than pure gold (Psalm 119:127)
 
God's wisdom 
Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding,
for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold (Proverbs 3:13-14)


faith
our faith—of greater worth than gold (1 Peter 1:7)

the blood of Christ 
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19)

what i found most off-putting in the Jesus-as-investment metaphor is the suggestion that Jesus exists to enrich us or to provide us with security like our IRA. of course scripture promises blessing to Christians, including salvation, grace, forgiveness, peace, and joy, but the call to discipleship is a call to deny ourselves, pick up our crosses, and follow Christ. it's a call to die to ourselves, our desires, and our sinful natures. the true Christian gospel is not the "health and wealth" gospel that is sometimes preached, where faith in Christ is an all-access pass to prosperity, riches, and wordly blessings. it may just be the opposite.

the incredible truth of the gospel is that it is only in dying to ourselves that we are able to experience life to the full, abundantly rich with all the goodness that God wants to give to us. I don't "invest" in Jesus hoping for big returns; it was Jesus who paid the heavy price for my redemption with his own life and "bids me come and die and find that i may truly live."

(can't look away from bad church signs, either? check out crummy church signs.)

9 comments:

Glenn said...

Thank you, Suzannah, for that meditation. It is so packed with God's truth revealed in scripture, not merely one Christian's opinion. Love, Dad

Elissa said...

i hold the same utter disdain for church signs - i've threaten our pastor/friend of our new church plant that if we ever got one i'd leave! the one around the corner from my office currently says - "don't be wise in words; be wise in deeds." yeah, that's a great tradeoff...

bethany said...

preach it sister!

i think there is quite a bit of substantial evidence in scripure that Jesus would oppose our investing financially at all. for instance:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also...No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." -matt 6:19-21

lonelygirl89 said...

I have to agree with everything you said in this. Thanks for the comment on my site. Hope you comment again sometime.

annie said...

yes! for one thing, those little church signs drive me NUTS! there's a presbyterian church i frequently pass that always has the most ridiculous signs (
too hot for you? come in - we're prayer conditioned", among others). it's disturbing

for another, you are right on about the whole investment of Christ mentality. i have yet to come across any pithy church sign that is actually completely Biblically accurate (which is a whole other topic....what does that say about the church that's using those cute little sayings? they don't mind compromising the Word on the hope for a few extra visitors holding a few extra dollars?) but the idea that Jesus is an investment, reducing him to currency, is sickening. and how many people already believe Jesus' whole purpose in existing is to make their lives better/happier/prosperous/whatever?
thanks for posting this. good to mull over and discuss.

Caron said...

Check this out on the "health and wealth" gospel: http://www.justinpeters.org and be sure to watch the video! Mr. Peters gave the full length seminar on this movement and its dangers at my church and comes highly recommended by my pastor, Dr. John MacArthur.

Smoochiefrog said...

Great post! Totally agree!

Brad Kirk said...

Great job. As someone familiar to theology, I appreciate what you have done here. While I doubt the people who put up the sign thought this hard before they did it . . .

Elizabeth said...

Wonderful.You have such insight.And you can get it out of your brainfor usto understand! My thoughts are perfect in my head,but when coming out of my mouth,it is a jumbled mess! Bravo.I really couldn't have said it better myself.!

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