Wednesday, January 7, 2009

2008 Reflection: My Journey with Money and Faith

Our church community spent a good deal of time this year discussing how money interconnects with faith. Over half of Jesus’ parables address money and he spoke of this topic more than any other except the kingdom of God. (This makes it especially interesting that churches spend so much time, energy, and money focusing on things that Jesus never even spoke about like homosexuality, while they rarely address the issue of a particular lifestyle and image they are trying to maintain.)

In the past few weeks, the issue of money has become an interesting one for me. I really enjoy making budgets and Matt and I are pretty good about living frugally and giving. But I feel like the balance between being frugal and spending money is really difficult to find for me. As I have been studying peace and justice issues in school this semester, I wonder how I can spend money on things when there are people throughout the world starving and dying. It may sound a bit clichĂ©, but this is a serious struggle for me that grips my heart. For example, we didn’t get a Christmas tree this year, because I just couldn’t justify having a dead tree in my house that I spent money on. Last year we got a rosemary tree that is now planted in our garden, but really, a garden doesn’t need more than one rosemary tree. Also, as we were spending time with Matt’s family dog this Christmas, I began wondering if I could ever have a dog, because how can I justify spending money on dog food and care, when many people in this world lack adequate food and care. I have also been wondering how I can justify wearing a diamond ring on my finger, when it was probably sold as a means to perpetuate a conflict, in addition to being a symbol in our society of wealth. I think you get the point, but these types of thoughts have gone through my head around and around for the past several weeks. I guess the thing is that I don’t want to be a killjoy or come from a position of superiority when I have conversations with people about this issue, but I do have certain convictions that weigh heavy on my heart.

I am beginning to wonder, are there blacks and whites when it comes to money, or is it one big gray area? As a Christian, should there be certain practices that we all follow regarding money, or does God really tell us each how to live on an individual basis? With all of these thoughts, I decided to reread the story of the “rich young ruler.” I read this story in Matthew 19, Luke 18, and Mark 10, where Jesus says it is difficult for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God, and that it is actually easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. Then I began to think about myself. Am I rich? Compared to other Southern Californians, no, but compared to others in the world, yes, I am very rich. So what does all of this mean? How am I to find balance in my life in this area, or am I not supposed to find balance, but live in a way that is sacrificially unbalanced?

Feedback is welcomed if you are feeling up to it.


  1. I can really relate to this post and I wish I could answer your questions. You have left me with a lot to think about

  2. Brooke, you are amazing and i love you. WE ARE BACK ONLINE!

  3. great stuff, brooke. the only thing that i find so disconcerting about this line of thinking is that it can be never ending. and for some, it becomes quite binary, which often results in this self-righteous assertion of one's own lifestyle. it's interesting that as this group (meaning the emergent folk who seek social justice in all things) suggest the importance of an individual relationship with Christ within the context of a collective that the notion of financial absolutes would even emerge. i'm not sure we can have it both ways. i would think balance is very important as long as it's centered around grace. katie and i went on a date in boise for the first time in nearly 8 months -- now we could feel guilty, but our relationship needed it. should we never snowboard again; never head to the local pub, thus helping the local economy to have a couple drinks with some friends; is there a certain price i should pay for x; and should the church establish these parameters; or is this between the individual and God?

    this is such a delicate area not just for the institutional church but for all churches. and i'm not entirely sure how to proceed other than to try and understand that the economical journey might just be the most difficult aspect of this life, and if this be the case, then grace needs to be at the center of it or it truly doesn't matter.

    i am afraid of binaries and absolutes for everyone -- especially regarding areas in which i agree...


  4. Joel,
    I completely agree with you. Thanks for the comment. This is an area where I have a lot of questions, but not a lot of answers. I think absolutes are difficult to determine for most aspects of Christianity, and this aspect is one of the most challenging. I definitely think that you shouldn't feel guilty for going on a date with Katie. I don't often feel guilty going on a date with Matt, because we are trying to sustain a marriage, and that can be challenging at times. I like how you say that grace needs to be at the center of this topic just like others. That is a good perspective to take. However, I do still wonder how we can look over Jesus' statement about the difficulty for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. How are churches and Christians to take that?