COMMERCE or CHRIST?
by Gerald Chester
In his gospel record, the first-century physician Luke quoted Jesus:
“No servant 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” Luke 16:13 (NIV).
Hence the worship of God and money are mutually exclusive.
Please note that I did not say that God and money are mutually
exclusive, but rather the worship of God and money are
Most of us do not consider ourselves to be worshippers of money.
Instead, we claim to be worshippers of God. But if Amy Domini is
correct and the signs and symbols of the culture reveal what people
really value and therefore worship, do the signs confirm that we
are worshippers of money?
Consider the following signs:
Sign #1: Success is denominated in terms of money. When the
label “successful” is applied to a person, we are commonly referring
to his or her financial success. Unless the person is an outright
criminal like Bernie Madoff, the level of success that one enjoys
is directly proportional to one’s financial fortune.
Sign #2: Americans live as consumers, not stewards. This is so
obvious to the workplace that business pundits have labeled
Americans as “consumers.” Furthermore, our economy is built on
consumption; hence, when personal consumption drops, so does
Sign #3: An entitlement mentality has emerged in America regarding
the right to a certain standard of living, disaster aid, health care,
and financial safety. Most people expect the government to care
for them if something goes wrong and when they get old. There is
no compelling reason to responsibly save money or to help each other.
Sign #4: Almost everyone chooses their work based on money.
People, as a general rule, accept jobs and leave jobs to make
more money. Any other factors that might be considered are secondary.
Sign #5: Money, for the most part, dictates where people choose
to live. Most people determine the largest mortgage they qualify
for and shop for a home that will match that mortgage. Because
of this, many people live “house poor,” meaning that they cannot
adequately furnish, decorate and/or maintain their homes. Further-
more, because people live on the edge financially, when economic
stress comes they often lose their homes through foreclosure.
As I consider these signs, I am persuaded that money is very
important to people-far more important than God. Having been
active in Christianity for more than fifty years, my anecdotal
observation is that God is important to people for a few hours each
week on Sunday, but the rest of the time most people focus on
money. Money defines who we are-how we view and use money,
our social standing, our public policy, where we work, and how we
live. Where is God in all of this?
As noted above, one of the rules of God’s universe is that people
cannot worship both God and money-a choice has to be made.
Sadly, few seem to understand this reality-many professing
Christians display the signs noted above, which means that they
are trying to worship God and money.
Let us be clear: when we break God’s rules, there will be
consequences. Note the words of the apostle Paul in Galatians 6:7:
“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what
he sows” [NIV]. It is deception to think that we can sow seeds of
rebellion by violating God’s laws and not have consequences. Yet,
this is what we are doing. We think that we can worship God and
money, but God has said that we can’t…
The popular paradigm of present-day Christianity focuses on getting
people to make a decision for Christ as if one decision is all that
we need to make. This implies that all other decisions can be
made without Christ. When you read the New Testament, it is
abundantly clear the apostle Paul viewed Christ and his teachings
as the basis for making all decisions (e.g., Colossians 2).
About a year ago, I heard a speaker say that he was not trying to
get people to make a decision for Christ, rather he was trying to
get them to make every decision for Christ. This is the biblical perspective.
I think the signs of the times are clear. The professing Christian
community, particularly in North America, has abandoned the
worship of Christ and chosen to worship commerce (i.e., money).
This choice will have undesirable consequences. Perhaps the
current economic calamity is part of the consequences.
Hosea 13:2 reads: “Now they [the Israelites] sin more and more;
they make idols for themselves from their silver, cleverly fashioned
images, all of them the work of craftsmen . . .” (NIV). Note that the
craftsmen (i.e., the workplace) simply accommodated the wishes
of the people. The real driver in a culture is the worldview of the
people. The workplace and public policy of culture merely reflect
the people’s worldview. If the people choose to worship God, then
the workplace and public policy will worship God. And if the
people choose to worship money, the workplace and public policy
will also worship money.
Choosing to worship money instead of God will lead to judgment
(see Deuteronomy 28). But if people repent and worship the one
true God, then there will be blessings. So the choice is ours-
commerce (i.e., money) or Christ-what will it be?
Know this: because of the sin of man, the default answer is
commerce. So if you want to change, truly change, you have to
proactively engage in rejecting the worship of money and choose Christ…