Thoughts on “Wealth” vs “Riches” and God’s level playing field.

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My wife Bonnie and I recently returned from a trip to Ongole, India, where the Lord provided for us to be used to build two Church/Orpahanage buildings for two growing Indian congregations. It was a short visit but I came away with an insight that made very real to me something that had been shared with me by my friend Dennis Peacocke years ago. It has to do with the difference between “wealth” and “riches.”

In the villages that we visited the people were extremely poor in terms of “riches” but very “wealthy” in terms of Kingdom values. If we think of “riches” as money, property, possessions, and pleasure, and “wealth” as love, character, contentment, joy, and the fruit of the Spirit we gain an insight into God’s level playing field. All Christians don’t have equal access to “riches” but all have equal access to “wealth.” Those we met and prayed with in the villages of India were very wealthy indeed, but very poor!

This can contrast with the lack of “wealth” that we see in so many “rich” American business owners and leaders. While there is equal access to “wealth” for all Christians, the distractions of “riches” can erode or steal it entirely. “Things” can be a curse or a blessing depending on how we perceive them and use them. Hoarding them brings a curse, sharing them with others a blessing.

I know this is short and perhaps even simplistic but my intention is to cause thought, not to teach at a deep level, I will trust God to do the deep teaching, just think on this idea a bit and ask Him.

Let me give you an example. Before the opportunity to fund the buildings buildings came to us I had an IRA. In reality it was just a bunch of numbers on paper that I received regularly from my broker. It was a bit interesting to watch the numbers go up and down with the value of the stocks but it had no real value to me or to anyone else. I exchanged some of the numbers on paper for two buildings in India that will serve Christian believers and orphans for years to come and was privileged to see and share in the joy and hope in the lives of others that I had never met and who could never repay me (nor should they have to). As we celebrated God’s goodness together in dedicating the buildings to His glory and purpose we shared in His wealth, even though there were no riches to be seen. Riches can be exchanged for wealth, wealth never can be exchanged for riches.

The numbers on the paper meant so very little to me, or to anyone else, but the exchange we made this past week couldn’t be compared and the wealth created is eternal.

A Christian Company?

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Can a business be Christian? Of course it can! In the same way that a school, or a family, or a genre of music or literature can Christian, so can a business. For years I have heard the spurious argument that since “a business can’t go to heaven” that the use of the term Christian applied to same is invalid. This is nonsense. The word can and is completely properly used as an adjective, to modify and further clarify a noun, And it is amazing to me that every one of the pious critics that I have encountered who declaim the term when used to describe a business have no trouble at all using it in the previously mentioned contexts and others. This distraction is not helpful. The question is not really can a business be a Christian business but how and what does the term mean?

When we use the term Christian as an adjective to describe a school we understand that a Christian school is an organization that teaches things like math and science etc. but, because of the modifying adjective, we know that it will do so with a Christ-centered worldview, striving to express and apply Jesus Christ’s teaching and functioning under His direction and Lordship and accepting His values. A Christian school will be judged academically using all the criteria that the world uses but also by an additional measure of obedience to the Biblical standards and principles it professes. A business is simply an organization as is a school, an organization gathered to work toward producing a predetermined result. Providing an education in the case of a school, providing a valuable product or service in the case of a business. Either can only be dedicated as Christian by the organizing authority or owner(s) and once made the commitment relieves no obligation to provide quality or value in its primary service or function. Use of the modifier Christian merely gives information as to how and by what standards it plans to do so. The organization will strive to act coherently with the values of Christ as it functions.

So, the term is proper but is it appropriate? Can we flawed and struggling humans perfectly apply the ways of God in Christ in an organization? Of course we can’t but does that mean that we shouldn’t try? Or should we wait until we have it all together before we claim to represent Jesus Christ or to be called by His Name?. Do you know of a perfect church? A perfect Christian song? School? Family? Novel? No, you don’t and I don’t either. But we both know that our God has chosen to shine His light through earthen vessels wherever He places them, individually or gathered into groups. Wherever. God is not limited and His Kingdom extends to our businesses. The question isn’t can a business be a Christian business but “how ?” Like-minded Christian CEOs and owners across America and around the world are meeting together on a regular basis to learn “how to” and to help one another apply God’s ways in “Building Great Businesses for a Greater Purpose.” Visit www.c12group.com for more information.