(Two Days, Two Rants)

James 4
1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don???t they come from your
desires that battle within you?
2 You want something but don???t get it. You kill and covet, but you
cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have,
because you do not ask God.
3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong
motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
4 You adulterous people, don???t you know that friendship with the world
is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world
becomes an enemy of God.
5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he
caused to live in us envies intensely?
6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ???God opposes
the proud but gives grace to the humble.???

Has it occurred to us that the latest, largest economic meltdown since
The Great Depression happened largely due to Wall Street business
persons in suits who played fast and loose with the stock market,
banking and loan practices and other business interests to the extent
the entire world is now nailed to an economic “wall”? If you’re
hearing me say it’s the corporate folks and not the poor who’ve
trashed the economy you’re hearing is good indeed!

Did the poor in any way contribute to this collapse?

Now, no question it’s easier to blame the wealthy out of pride, envy,
jealousy and so forth. No doubt all of the rich are not self-centered
people with no soul, love or funding of charities. I’m well-aware a
great deal of money is given to a great many good causes including
various attempts to help widows, orphans and the homeless each year
from the very wallets of the rich.

What I’m saying is that the real donkey needing to be pinned isn’t the
political party bearing that figure, rather it is that strata of
society as well as the politicians who routinely kiss up to that
strata, and those who lobby for laws suited to make big business
persons wealthier while ever-deeper cuts are made that directly affect
the poorest of American society. Doesn’t this bother anyone?

I’m also saying that for these people who have often moved their
employee base offshore to other nations (profit is at the core of the
motive) while American workers suffer more and more for work… how is
it we scapegoat politicians (largely) for such an economic mess? We’d
better engage our minds and not simply work to protect our own wallets
in these matters!

I’ve spent many an hour in Acts chapters 2 and 4, in fact did again
today, and there I find in the early church a love, compassion and
giving heart- in particular to “those who had any need”. While we may
be fully angry at the trillions spent by -any- American government on
programs we individually find great fault with, please know believers
on -both- sides of the aisle (as well as independents like myself) do
not automatically support all defense spending either!

Trillions one side likes spent while the other does not, are trillions
spent still! Face it, it’s not the money, it’s where it’s going that
we’re arguing about.

Meanwhile, in the crossfire of all of this concern for the economy we
find more and more heaved into the “lower class”.

Then we wonder why people get into crime, selling dope for a living
(when it is in fact, a dying). What part of “do whatever I can to make
MORE MONEY” do we not understand?

One criminal wears a suit and may or may not do time in Federal prison
for unlawful activities. Another criminal may or may not end up in
prison for organized crime, dope dealing, prostitution or whatever
illegal activity -in order to make as much money as possible. Markets,
right? Capitalism ‘eh?!

I frankly find a great less sense in our system than I do in how they
served one another Acts 2 and 4… and I’m not so naive as to believe
Christians much less unbelievers will accept or live out such a
lifestyle of sharing and service: “there was not a need among them”.
But what a different world it would be and could be if more followers
of Jesus re-examined their own commitment to love their neighbor
rather than support thieves on either side of the political spectrum!

What a different world it would be if Christ-followers would with love
and courage, deny political clout to the robber-barons of our day!

Alas, I think many believe “manifest destiny” is at work, and/or that
somehow the rich have pretty well “earned it”. Again, I personally
think the first is nonsense and the second just ignorant.

I’m sure some -have- earned their wealth honestly and with some
measure of ethics toward their workers. I’m equally sure dope dealers
and gun runners figure they too have “earned it”! Nonsense.

Knowing how to make ever more money at the direct, ultimate expense of
your neighbor is no more loving than it is patriotic. No matter which
party you support, no matter how much money you’ve put in the bank.
And of course, more is never enough.

Such is the way of the world James speaks out against in chapter 4.

God help us! -Glenn



  1. Glenn, I loved your post yesterday…and was especially grateful that you avoided singling people out for blame. Among other things, blame doesn’t move the ball down the field one inch. And people are already so angry and divided over these issues to the point where we really are engaging in class warfare and unfair characterization…and, in my view, are moving toward a separatist movement in his country. As much as I agree with most of your points here, I have to take exception to a couple things you said. First of all, yes, of course…it was the big money guys who raped the country financially. But you ask if it was anyone else…or if the poor had a hand in this? Of course! First of all, it was well-meaning Democrats who practically mandated home loans for those who had no prayer of repaying them…this was 10 years ago…long before the creation of the financial instruments that led us into financial hell. There is GOOD reason to attack politicians in these matters. And they are also the ones (with their over-regulation in non-critical areas) that are hamstringing the economy. So, I don’t accept that the only bad guys in this story are the money folks. And, do the poor have a hand in all this? Of course. There are plenty of people who don’t want to work…who spend their lives scamming others. Fathers who abandon their families, poor mothers who play welfare games, etc. The poor are no more saints just because they are poor than the rich are demons because they are rich. We, as the church are called to advocate for the poor. We are called to mercy and compassion and sacrifice. Does that mean we are required to vote for bloated government as the best instrument for compassion? What about the current president, who is proposing to slash tax deductions for charitable giving? Can’t you see that this is a two-way street? Why do we need to find a bad guy all the time? We are broken, fallen human beings, and politics is a broken, fallen human construct. Nothing can replace God or his kingdom. But Jesus died for the rich and poor, the Republicans and the Democrats, the socialists and fascists and all the rest. Personally, I believe the church’s best role is two-fold: Care for the poor and speak against injustice. You’re prepared to defend character flaws in the poor and powerless. Can you also see that the rich and powerful need the same forgiveness and the same love of Christ? Why the focus on externals? If you’re going to attack the sin, attack the sin! I sincerely love and appreciate you, brother!

  2. Hi Chuck,Thanks for your thoughtful post! I don’t hear you wanting to win a debate, I hear your good heart and really appreciate it, thanks.I also agree with many of your positions here, but in the end the issue is: what do we Christians do about the poor in our block, neighborhood, town? Not what does this or that govn’t do, but what do -we- do? How to love the widow and orphan? James 1.27 stuff!Frankly, the rich aren’t the first to line up to answer that, and the government is often blamed and scapegoated when it tries. Not good.Yes, poor and rich, all are called to repent! All have indeed sinned, no question.The issue is Acts, not concepts nor a mere vote nor talk nor grinding of teeth about any government. As I’ve said earlier, if the church did it’s job who was in office would be somewhat moot. But for many Christians it’s vote right and holler, not much else. Nada. This is not love in action.Injustice has been done TO the poor, and in my view, rarely to the wealthy of this nation.I think class warfare is exactly what some in this country want, and in the end, I simply call the church to BE the church and repent of the class-ism, racism and prejudice that fear sometimes brings us to. I think this is often more about power and control than love and serving "the least of these".I often call poor, rich and middle-class to repent of whatever sin they’ve chosen! And I repent each night myself!!!Apathy is sin. Griping without lifting a finger to help those in need is sin. Not giving to the one who asks of you is sin. I truly believe I am indeed attacking the sin.These days too many of the rich take it offshore… and in my view are as guilty as the drug dealer for how injustice is done to the poor because of it.Chuck, In my view, blue collar crime is equal to- and often surpassing in it’s trickle down miserable effects… to white collar crime. The poor in their sin seem sooo much more sinful to so many of us. I truly don’t think God sees it that way.Thanks for your thoughts my Bro.!-Glenn

  3. <!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN"> <html> <head> <meta content="text/html; charset=ISO-8859-1" http-equiv="Content-Type"> <title></title> </head> <body bgcolor="#ffffff" text="#000000"> <br> <div class="moz-signature"> <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=ISO-8859-1"> <title>Untitled Document</title> <style type="text/css"> <!– .style2 {
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    font-size: medium; } –>&nbsp;</style><span class="style2"><span class="style5"></span>Thanks for the response, Glenn. I agree with you 100% on all this, but with one point of clarification in defense of taking work overseas. <br> <br> Economic realities in competition make outsourcing an absolute necessity. Whether your competitor is an overseas company…or an American company who has outsourced their labor…you simply can’t stay in business in the US paying living wages to Americans, and you either outsource or go out of business. The company is built on the backs of the works AND on the vision and passion of the guy who ran it…but when similar or somewhat lesser-quality work can be done for one-fifth to one-tenth the cost elsewhere, there is no choice. I believe that your point about "more is never enough" in regard to profits is more germane to the situation regarding business. The drive to ever-increasing profits is a dehumanizing ones. I don’t believe profit is evil. It’s an absolutely necessity in business. But we hyper-incentivize obscene profits, and there’s the rub for me. I don’t think it’s possible any longer to unwind this knot. American workers tend to have a sense of entitlement. We can’t fill minimum-wage jobs here…even McDonald’s is hiring undocumented Mexicans. The poor, the disabled and the willing unemployed need help…both from us and from the government (in terms of assistance and retraining), to help break this cycle.<br> <br> In the end, you’re right…it’s ALL about how we, as individual believers and local bodies, respond to the poor. That’s the clarion call.<br> <br> Politics is such dangerous ground. We sold out as a church (not you, but many of us) in the Eighties to the Far Right and ended up with the arrogance of the Moral Majority…and it hurts our witness as a church to this day. Political candidates and parties will suck us dry and then dump us. It’s not wrong to be involved, but it’s unwise to be seduced by them, because the gospel ends up being compromised and blocked in the long run.<br> <br> Thanks for being such an example of how we can and should live and serve, Glenn. You have inspired me for the better part of 40 years now!<br> </span> </div> <br></body></html>

  4. Glenn…you are so correct! As Christians, we make it about what ‘we want,’ not about what God wants for us. And your take on Wall St. and our ‘coveting nature’ is shared for the most part by Lou Dobbs of Fox News. Thanks Glenn!Tom

  5. Chuck, you're very kind. And I agree with each of your points with the exception that a company -must- relocate at least part of it's processes overseas or go out of biz. I get your core meaning, which makes sense and fits many situations I'm sure, but there are apparently companies who have not outsourced in order to say in business.<br> <br>Part of why I'm an independent voter and have been for as long as I can remember, is that too many pols get co-opted or have to concede on the basis of their own job. The ethic of sacrificing one's own gig (if that should come to be the cost) reminds me of John the Baptist, Jesus and people like Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Sacrifice is always core, it means someone else gets to increase and I pay the price.<br> <br>This is so against the current in the current stream of American and sometimes American Christian life. I am NOT saying there are not a lot of loving Christians and local congregations who are doing an excellent job of caring for the poor in and around their local fellowship, I am saying there are far too many who do little to nothing in practical terms, then gripe and scream and listen to extremists- little demagogues with a microphone or tv show who like many of the pols are trying to keep their gig and the ratings and therefore finances climbing ever higher.<br> <br>The love of money indeed is the &quot;root of all evil&quot;. John said &quot;You who have two coats give one to him who have none&quot;. Jesus said &quot;As you do it to the least of these you do it to me&quot;. What can be more obvious?<br> <br>As usual, we scream. By the way, and this is an interesting twist that for me answers at least some of the issues regarding believers' take on all this: apparently God predestined some to wealth and others to poverty, therefore get over it, for who can resist His will. If that's the biblical case (which I strongly do not agree with) then apparently part of God's will is the suffering of the rich just as He appoints such for the poor! But some of my Christian brothers and sisters seem to not enjoy such a doctrine when it affects their own sense of safety and comfort. Things like this cause people to lose credibility among those poor who have not yet seen the Good News demonstrated by all too many of us.<br> <br>Thanks again Chuck, I hear you and appreciate your thoughts. -Glenn

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