No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. (Matthew 6:24)
POPEriety – noun: the state or quality of not conforming to conventionally accepted standards of behavior or values.
OKay, I admit it, I made that word up! You can look up the definition of “propriety” and figure out what I did.
But this morning I read an interesting news brief; it was buried around the middle pages of our local newspaper. Apparently some Italian politicians are concerned because the new pope, Francis, is potentially stepping on the toes of organized crime.
The radical pontiff, it seems, can talk about Jesus all he likes; he can reach out to the poor and the oppressed; he can call people back to a pure faith; and he can eschew the lavish trappings of the Vatican Palace with relative impunity. But…,
- “Don’t be messing with wealth and money!”
- “Don’t interfere with what we really worship!”
- “Don’t you dare tell us we have to turn away from our real gods….”
Let me see if I can find the source article on the Internet:
Pope Francis is making the Italian mafia “very nervous” – and there are concerns they could come after him.
Nicola Gratteri, a state prosecutor, said that the “Ndrangheta” is not happy with Pope Francis’ proposed reforms to combat corruption in the Church, which for decades has faced allegations of collusion with the southern Italian crime family.
“Those who have up until now profited from the influence and wealth drawn from the church are getting very nervous,” he added. “[N]ow the pope is dismantling the poles of economic power in the Vatican, and that is dangerous.” (FoxNews/AP)
FOUNDATIONS: The phrase, “The poles of economic power,” is telling. Poles are associated with stability, and we get extremely nervous when our stability is threatened.
When I think about the foundations we build our lives on, the “bedrock of everything” tells us a lot about how the rest of the story is going to play out.
Pope Francis was recently installed in one of the most powerful and wealthy positions on the planet, but he’s talking and acting as if the bedrock of life is something other than power and wealth; he’s taking actions that point to faith in God as the bedrock, foundational, very-ground-we-stand-on axis of stability!
What is the man thinking?
$$$$$$: This story is an important reminder to me as Rebekah and I prepare to “re-covenant” with our church family in terms of our financial commitment for 2014.
Are we like Pope Francis, who believes there needs to be a radical shift in our allegiances, and that the epicenter of faith needs to rest in God, not money? Or are we going to be like those who are unnerved by such teachings, those who feel that the whole basis for the way they “do life” is being threatened?
PLEDGE: Every new year… every month… every week… every day, when I apportion the resources I have at my disposal, I’m making a conscious choice either to throw the weight of my allegiances behind faith in God, or I’m making the choice to put my faith in something else.
When Rebekah and I re-covenant with our church this weekend, we will view our 10% “tithe” simply as a starting place. It’s not that the other 90% belongs to us, but that the 10% is a down-payment of sorts, a statement of faith.
Tithing is a way of saying, “We trust you, God, and we believe in the work you are doing in and through Wake Forest Presbyterian Church; now please continue to work in our lives as we seek to be better stewards of all your good gifts. Amen.”
In prayer, both for the ministries of our church, and the witness of Pope Francis – DEREK