I’ve been getting into conversations about money these days, and that’s not usually my style. But in the past three days or so, I’ve had at least four major talks or so about money — about people who have it, about people who don’t, and in particular, the dreams people have about it.
But I have a dream: ten years from now, it would be great to look someone in the eye and ask for $20 million to eliminate tuberculosis in Cambodia or something — anything. I would love to ask another person for $30 million to teach everyone in Sierra Leone how to read. I would love to have the networks to ask big, and redistribute the wealth sitting in commercial real estate, stock portfolios, second homes or other investments and use it to really make a difference in the world.
My pastor pointed out the following facts to the church a few months ago: in 2000, American evangelicals alone made $2.66 trillion in income. When compared to 2000 GDP numbers, even when adjusted for differences in living standards — purchasing power parity — only two countries on the entire planet had a higher GDP: Japan at $4.75 trillion and, of course, the United States at $9.76 trillion according to the World Bank. In comparison, the combined debt of the world’s 60 poorest nations comes out to $.523 trillion, or 1/5 of the American evangelical GDP in one year. If we add all who call themselves Christians in America, the income spikes to $5.2 trillion, thus surpassing Japan. I think we can share a little.
Besides Jesus wants us to. Money was a big deal to him, but in a different way — he talked about money more than any other subject beside the Kingdom of God. Jesus did say, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Our handling of money and our worship of God are intertwined, because the way we deal with our money speaks loud and clear about our priorities in life. Jesus makes an even stronger statement, “You cannot serve both God and money.” Instead of serving money, perhaps it can serve us — and ultimately serve God.
In a time when prosperity gospels seem to gain high yields, perhaps American Christianity needs a wake-up call. Instead of merely praying for our own needs, perhaps we can pray that we will be a joyful and sacrificial answer to someone else’s needs.
Perhaps we all can dream.