economics

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?

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?