Money

You are God's Currency (by Chris Schwass)

In response to the last few weeks of teachings at Open Door, Chris Schwass shared these thoughts and we wanted to share them with you all! Dive in and engage these thoughts! 20150104_coin_banner

We are God's currency Matthew 22:15-22

Matt 22:20-21: "Whose image is this? And whose inscription?"..."So give back to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's."

Coins are imprinted in Caesar's image, so they belong to Caesar. Jesus says to give them back if Caesar asks. But what belongs to God? The ten percent tithe that he requires?

Humanity is made in the image of God (Gen 1:27), so we belong to God. We are His currency. He mints us in His image, sends us into circulation in His economy, and calls us to return. We carry His intrinsic value.

In Caesar's economy, scarcity rules. The more I can accumulate and isolate/guard my coins, the more they are worth. The less everyone else has, the more what I have is worth. The value of my coins rests on the worth of Caesar's economy and the scarcity of how his worth is divided. If Caesar falls, my coins may be worthless. If a robber comes, my coins may be gone. The value I carry is extrinsic.

In God's economy, abundance rules. What I accumulate means nothing, because I carry God's worth. Matthew 6:19-34 reminds me to store up my treasures in Heaven, not on Earth, and not worry about what I eat, drink, or wear.

In God's economy, isolating or guarding my wealth - in essence not giving myself away, limits the value of God's investment. Perhaps the talent buried in the ground is myself - the very currency of great worth God created to be used.

In God's economy, I can have more and you can have more. God always has enough. In fact, it is in giving away that God multiplies resources. The widow has enough to eat after giving her last meal to Elijah. 5000 people have enough when Jesus' disciples give away the last of the food. The faith community in Acts has enough when everyone shares their resources.

God's economy rests on the awesome power of God. His kingdom will never pass away, so our value as His currency will never diminish. No one can steal our value or separate us from the love if God. Our value is intrinsic.

God's economy is living Matthew 22:23-33

Matt 22:23 "'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.' He is not the God of the dead but of the living." Caesar's image is on an inanimate coin, a lump of metal. His coins don't create more coins. God's image is on living things, who - through His power - make other living things. God's currency multiplies.

This is the natural order, the way God built the world to operate when He commanded, "Be fruitful and multiply." When Jesus feeds 5000 with a few fish and loaves, he demonstrates how God always expands His living economy: making more fish from generations of fish, wheat from generations of wheat, always more than enough. He makes life from life: miracle and everyday. That has been God's natural way since life began.

Man uses a non-living currency we can control to transfer value. That creates scarcity and isolation because it is limited. God multiplies resources, humans divide them. Our act of submission to God's economy is to multiply resources by bringing them together rather than separating them, so each person has more than enough.

Jesus bridges the gap, making more fish from dead fish, as a man and as God. In faith, we lean into God's infinite provision and let go of our store.

It's a Battle

God wants us to operate as His currency, while Satan wants us to doubt our value and isolate our worth in fear. It's about more than money moving around. Satan uses illness, pain, fear, obligation, pride, and a host of other tricks to keep us apart, to stifle God's economy.

When we lean into God's economy and move into circulation, we will experience new freedom (through God) and new friction (through Satan). Satan would love for more coins to be lost, but Jesus is seeking out every lost coin to add to the treasury.

It is our obligation to enter in, to listen to God, and accept the great value that He has imprinted on us with His image. He is love, and we are called to transfer and multiply His love in the world. It will not always be easy, but it will always be good.

What do you think? What does it look like to live as God's currency? What kind of investment might God be asking of you?

Recommended Reading/Resources for Coin: Jesus on Money

  We're two weeks into Coin: Jesus on Money, our journey exploring how Jesus interacted with money and how we might seek to follow Jesus with our own money. When we look at the teachings and actions of Jesus, it seems that money functions in (at least) three ways:

  1. A window into deeper things.
  2. A tool for our cultivation.
  3. A resource for weaving heaven and earth together again.

We're taking time to dig in and explore these primarily through our Gathering teachings (each week's teaching will be posted here) and two of our winter Circles following Mark Scandrette's book Free: Spending Your Time and Money on What Matters Most.

If you're not able to join one of the Free Circles, we encourage you to grab a copy of the book and work through it on your own or (ideally) with another person. Throughout the Circles, we'll post a few blog updates and stories if you want to follow along with the journey.

In addition to Free, here's a few other resources to consider reading and engaging if you want to dig deeper. [Note: I'll be reading through all of these and posting some thoughts. If you'll be reading along, let me know and I'd love to have you engage in the conversation. -dave]

Do you have any other resources you'd recommend as we think and ask questions about money, economy, and walking in the way of Jesus? Add them below in the comments!

Coin: Jesus on Money (Series Introduction)

Money is deeply-engrained in the fabric of our world. Global markets wield incredible control over our local economies and the cash in our pocket (or lack thereof) is often a primary cause of our stress and worry. Whether we have it or not, money shapes our lives, our relationships, and the environments around us. Is it a necessary evil or an opportunity for good? A tool or a vice? At Open Door we're seeking to walk in the way of Jesus and and pursue cultivation and formation of our whole self, including our finances! Jesus talks about money all the time not because it’s “good” or “bad” but because it's a window into deeper things.

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Through the beginning of Lent, we'll be engaging in a series called Coin: Jesus on Money. Throughout Coin, we'll dig into the teachings of Jesus on money, and experiment, dialogue, learn and grow together towards an integrated way forward with our money as we seek to walk in the way of Jesus together.

We'll have a few special opportunities to learn and practice together throughout the series. On January 18, Mark Scandrette from San Francisco's ReIMAGINE will be with us and in late January we'll launch two separate circles using Mark's book FREE to think about the alignment of our money and values (if you don't have a copy of Mark's book, it will be available at a discount on Jan 18 directly from Mark!).

As we begin this series, we'd love to hear your thoughts and questions below!

  • What stirs your imagination about the possibilities of following Jesus with your money?
  • What are the biggest stressors caused by money?
  • What kind of communal practices involving our finances can help us better walk in the way of Jesus?

Becoming Intentionally Generous, 2012

Proactive, Sacrificial Generosity. It's a defining characteristic of the Jesus Community that emerges as we allow the extravagant love and "reckless spending" of God to invade and then to fuel our lives.

We saw this on February 12th as we explored the life of an ancient, humble, courageous, impoverished-yet-generous Jesus Community in Philippi.  Together, we were moved by how this recently cultivated community had so allowed the extravagance of God's love to invade their lives that it generated in them a zeal to participate with Him by funding tangible Kingdom work throughout the Roman world.

We are a contemporary, East Bay Jesus Community made up of people who are learning to allow God's extravagant love to invade our lives...we are a community who is learning to tangibly respond to His love with the resources that He has gifted us.

Over the last year, your proactive response of sacrificial generosity has resulted in people's lives being transformed through the life and mission of The Open Door Community.  You've given to your local church and have experienced, personally, the transformation that comes when we tangibly participate with God in what He is doing.  What's more, your financial generosity has changed the lives of 35+ sponsored children around the world, enabled 17 local and global missionaries to live and narrate the Story of God in distinct places, and funded over 80 diverse humanitarian organizations world-wide.  On top of that, you've given yourselves away to each other and those within your everyday spheres; you've volunteered to host, to sing, to storytell, and to work with ODC Kids; you've responded, tangibly, to the needs of friends, neighbors, and strangers; you've redirected finances to meet local and global crises; and you've shared your tables, your time, and resources without hesitation.

In the practice of proactive, sacrificial generosity, we are meeting Jesus. In the practice of proactive, sacrificial generosity, we becoming more proactively sacrificial in our generosity.

This Year... Our prayer is that, as a community, our roots would sink deeper into the love of God so that His local and global Kingdom-reach through us would continue to expand.  We believe that the Spirit of Jesus is breathing fresh wind into The Open Door Community and, in so doing, is awakening our collective imagination to what is possible in neighborhoods, near and far.  We believe that the Spirit of Jesus has something to say to us about how we can steward our resources so that we can live for the all-dimensional benefit of others.

To that end, Open Door's Resource Team has developed a supplement to help us personally and corporately listen for what God has to say to us about money. Click Here to be directed to our 2012 Supplement.

Part 1, titled "For My Records", is designed to enable you to get a clear picture of your financial reality as it was in 2011.  Equally as important, this first section serves as a resource for you ask God how He'd like you to live with your money (give, save, and spend) in 2012.

Part 2, titled "My Response", is the supplement that Open Door's Resource Team would like to receive back from you for two reasons.  First, to the extent at which your proactive, sacrificial generosity includes The Open Door Community, it'd be extremely helpful for us to know for the purposes of wise budgeting.  Second, we'd love to get as accurate a picture as possible of the scope of the Kingdom Impact through Open Door's financial generosity.  Our hope is to be able to share and to celebrate with our community God's local and global reach through our collective generosity (i.e. total # of children sponsored, missionaries supported, wells dug, etc.).

Note: In an effort to effectively and responsibly manage the data received and to communicate with you, the five members of Open Door's Resource Team will be the only ones to see and process our responses.  This process will be led primarily by Open Door's Treasurer, Charlene O'Brien.  The additional four members of the Resource Team have been carefully selected by Open Door's Steward Team (our elders), guided by Kara Lynch.  Please don't hesitate to email either Charlene or Kara with questions, comments, or feedback on this process.

2 Ways to Respond: 1.  Fill out the "My Response" Portion of the process and hand deliver your enveloped response card to our offering box on Sunday, March 4. 2.  Mail your enveloped response to The Open Door Community. 1630 N. Main St. #311, Walnut Creek, CA 94596 by Sunday, March 4.

The Immediate Next Steps: Open Door's Resource Team will begin the work of responding to our responses.  This will involve both the sharing of and celebrating the diverse portfolio of Open Door's collective giving as well as the formulating of our 2012-2013 budget.

Note: Open Door's Fiscal year runs from July 1, 2012 - June 30, 2013

Thanks for allowing God to form you and, in so doing, form us.  Prayers over your process!