Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Matthew 5:3

I came across a PBS news segment a few weeks back that was covering some "controversial" results from research done by Paul Piff at the University of California, Berkeley.  Since then, I have been chewing on it thinking not only about the results of his studies but how it strongly correlates into our spiritual lives.

Here's a link to the video (Money on the Mind) but if you don't have 10 minutes let me recap you real quick.  With over thirty different types of studies and thousands of participates, they feel the results are very conclusive that "rich" people feel more entitled to their wealth and that they help others (physically, mentally, charitably, etc) less than the "average joe".

Studies range from watching to see what different cars in an intersection would do ("luxury cars (porsche, mercedes, etc.) were 3 to 4 times more likely to break the law than 'regular' cars") to playing a "rigged" game of Monopoly (where one player, picked at random, was allowed to play with normal rules while the other had everything cut in half: half the start money, one dice to roll, collecting $100 when passing go, etc.).  After the rigged game of Monopoly, decided only by a coin toss, they asked the "rich" player in the game how much they deserved to win the game, the researchers found that "they were entitled... the rich person felt like they deserved and earned the win."

I mean... wow!!  For some reason this connected hard to my heart.  I didn't really care if the study was making a social status argument or adding fuel to the fire of the economic divide in our country.  I took it personally, I thought about my own salary and the fact that I often feel I have "earned it" working long hours or occasionally doing things I really dislike doing.  Then I thought about my kids and the way they often take for-granted dinner that Courtney works so hard on each night or that they "need" some apples and water at their bedside each night.  I thought about all the luxuries we have in the United States compared to our friends in Haiti.  I remembered a message I once heard where the speaker said: "if you have ever rode in a plane, have two cars and a savings account you are in the top 7% of the wealthiest folks in the world."  In fact, I found this website the other day that actually shows you were you are in the context of the rest of the world financially (Check it out, click here).

Like stated above, I'm not really concerned on whether you agree with the "politics" of what the study reveals or if that quote about wealth is 100% accurate or the hidden agenda of the website I linked.  I want to know if you can connect with some of the questions raised by the study?  But I'd also like to take it into a totally different focus than money.  What if we think about the same study but apply it to our spiritual lives.  Have you ever felt entitled to your faith, like you deserved the salvation you now possess?  Are you taking for granted the grace and mercy God has show you in your own life?  Do you see yourself as better than others because you know "the truth"?

It is my experience, both personally and talking with lots of folks over the years that something happens to us over time when we have a wealth of "spiritualness" in our lives.  We start thinking we deserve it, we start treating those outside our circle as 'broken' and ourselves as 'fixed', we start acting like we know the truth and they are 'lost'.  Though some of the points I just mentioned may be theologically accurate, I wonder what those "poor in spirit" see when they look at our lives.  I wonder how our relationship with God is when it's just the two of you late at night.  I've noticed in my own life, I often shift to a "me" focus.  From the fact that God chose me, that Jesus died for me, that the Spirit gives me strength; to I save myself, I made it possible to enter heaven and I beat sin.  FYI: I'm not trying to get into a Calvinism conversation, just asking 'how you are doing'?

How are you doing with loving others more than yourself (not because you're better than them but because God first loved us)?  How are you doing with sharing your faith(not because you know more than others but because Jesus commanded us to share)?  How are you doing with being in awe of God (not because you're more spiritually enlightened but because the Spirit has led you to His greatness)?

May we be more 'Jesus focused' and less 'us focused' this week.  May we be thankful for the gifts you continue to pour out on us.  May we never take for granted the sacrifice You made and calling us to your family.  May we never look down on others no matter the circumstance.  May we never treat others poorly because they are different.  May we love others because you first loved us.  May we be 'needy' in Spirit each day and grateful when you fill us up!! 

P.S. I'm the 29,805,011th richest person in the world... Though that doesn't seem so good, I'm reminded there's 7+ Billion folks in the world (I am "blessed to be a blessing")!!

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