Is it achievable?
I’m just starting to realise where we’ve been and where we need to go in the church with regard to distribution of wealth. For a while I’ve had convictions borne out of passages like 2 Corinthians 8, which takes its cue in turn from Exodus and the story of the provision of manna. I think that it’s significant that when Paul addresses money in the church he compares it with such a famous story of miraculous provision from the Old Testament. We should expect that all that we have to steward financially is given miraculously by God.
The paradigm that he outlines is summarised by Exodus’ comment on the in-gathering of the manna: “He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little had no lack.” (2 Cor 8:15 quoting Ex 16:18) It is acknowledged that initially there were some who gathered more than others, as continues to be the case today with the rich and poor (hopefully) meeting together in fellowship in the church. But what then needed to happen was a process of sharing, of redistribution of wealth so that everyone had enough, and none lacked. I think it’s this second part – the part that actually involves us doing something – that we’re not so good at.
But I’m coming more and more strongly towards the conclusion and belief that God’s desire is not necessarily to make everyone rich, as the prosperity proponents might say (no digging at them intended), nor that we should all be poor, as the money would have to be SOMEWHERE; rather I think the vision fits into the way He created the whole of humanity to be: equal. As Paul said in the previous verse to the one just quoted above: “at this present time your abundance becoming a supply for their need, so that their abundance may also become a supply for your need, THAT THERE MAY BE EQUALITY…” (2 Cor 8:14) and then he goes on to quote the verse already given above.
However much some preachers and churches and doctrines may not like it, the poor do not seem to cease being around, as Moses made clear in the Law, and as Jesus made clear. It is not God’s heart – those statements always come in the context of wanting to deal with the poverty. But neither is it His heart that we all get rich and horde our riches to ourselves. Those who gather much must share with those who gather little, because they equally were shown the greatest generosity and gift in Jesus’ death for them. In THAT sense, we are all undeniably, humbly equal, owing it to Him who paid for us all to love all those others that He purchased in the way that He loved us.
More on this to come, I am sure – in the areas of social justice and the financial generosity of the church, and in other areas of equality, and what I believe the Bible has to say about that.