Greed is rapidly replacing Christianity as the dominant religion in the United States. Our love for the god of money is replacing our love for the Lord our God. We are allowing the worship of wealth to come before the worship of God, a direct violation of the first Commandment. This love of the almighty dollar affects not only the so called super rich but people at all socio-economic levels. No matter how much we have, or don’t have, we always want more. As Ecclesiastes 5:10 tells us, “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.” And, as Timothy reminds us, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.”
We see this love of money even within the church. There are pastors who are more concerned about increasing their personal income, than they are about witnessing to their faith in Jesus Christ. Churches at the local and denominational level are more concerned about self-preservation than they are about doing the work of Jesus Christ in the world. Even when they talk about our need to bring more people to Christ, their subtext is often, “more people equals more dollars.”
At the national level we are willing to sell out the elderly, the disabled, the veteran, the most vulnerable among us to ensure additional wealth for those at the top. We should remember the words of Jesus from Luke 12:48 “From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.” Unfortunately, we keep score by who has the most things of this world and we honor those who accumulate the most wealth instead of those most faithful to the teachings of scripture.
In addition to failing to live up to the contract our government made with us, the citizens of this nation who paid into a retirement fund and a retirement medical insurance program our entire working life (Social Security and Medicare), cuts to those programs are also violate the fifth Commandment, “Honor your father and mother,” as well as violating the commandments Jesus gave us to care for the most vulnerable among us. These commandments were intended not only for us as individuals, but also for us collectively as a society. After all, a nation is simply a large group of individuals. What is good for one is good for all.
At the same time we refuse to cut spending on our savior, the military-industrial complex. We put our trust in our military power instead of in the Lord our God. When attacked, as we were on Sept. 11, 2001, we failed to listen to Jesus who tells us to, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Mt 5:44) and turned to the military for vengeance even though God clearly says, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay.” (Duet. 32:35)
We could save billions if not trillions of dollars if we would simply declare an end to World War II and bring those troops home. We do not need to continue occupying Germany, Japan, Italy and other nations in Europe and Asia. History tells us that empires fell when they over extended themselves and tried to occupy and control more of the world than they were capable of. We need to allow other nations to take care of themselves and focus more on our own people. We could easily balance the budget if we would stop fighting unnecessary, unwinnable wars; stop producing weapons we don’t need; and bring the troops home for Iraq and Afghanistan as well.
Who do you love; I mean really love, God or wealth? Who do you trust; I mean really trust to protect you, Jesus or the military?
The Rev. Dr. Jim Nelson is a member of the South Georgia Annual Conference. He writes and speaks frequently on Faith and Politics. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.