Wednesday, May 9, 2012

How Much is Too Much? - Part I

I'll tell you one thing, I knew not everyone would agree with my thoughts on Dave, but I had no idea just how strong everyone's opinions would be. It has been insightful and interesting to read the comments. For the record, I welcome a different opinion, as long as it's shared respectfully. Don't ever feel bad about disagreeing with me. I'm one of those weirdos that enjoys debate and loves hanging out with people who don't think exactly like I do.

I do feel like I need to offer a bit of summary though, since so many of you commented things like "But I think it's important to live debt-free!" (uh yeah, me too!) So let me be really clear.

1. We did Dave's FPU class.
2. We had a small amount of debt and paid it off, because Dave's 100% right - being in debt is not good stewardship.
3. He helped us fully commit to living "debt free", like forever, man.
4. I started listening to his radio show whenever I could.
5. His intro shouts, in a big, boomy voice, "It's about piles and piles of CASH!!!!"
6. It seemed like his "Christian" nuggets were sort of casually thrown in, as an afterthought.
7. I thought it was weird, but I didn't lose sleep over it.
8. I really liked the idea of being a millionaire when we retired.
9. We have always been givers, so I knew giving would continue to be part of our life when we became millionaires, but...
10. I mostly just wanted to have piles and piles of cash, for me, for you, and for me.
11. I wanted to dress well and live well and eat well and give *lots* of money away.
12. We read Radical and I started to see that Jesus called us to a life that denies ourselves. He calls us to give everything. He finds it reprehensible when we make our lives comfortable while the poor people around us go hungry.
13. I began to think that building "piles and piles of cash" and living life the way Jesus commands are mutually exclusive. I just don't know that you can do both.
14. It's hard to give sacrificially when you have a pile of cash. It doesn't hurt. It could hurt, if you let it, but then you wouldn't have your pile anymore...
15. For me, it felt hard to really care about the things God cares about when I was also thinking about retiring wealthy.
16. But this is just my opinion.
17. This is the way God has led my heart, along with Cory's.
18. I think Dave loves Jesus. I think he's smart and funny. I like his laugh and when he says "crap" on air. (I don't know why.) I still get goose bumps when people get out of debt, because it's a BIG deal.
19. But being able to pay cash for something is not the only criteria for deciding if you should buy it.
19. I think everyone should take the first half of his FPU class and get the heck out of debt.
20. I just don't know that I can endorse the "Now go build your wealth!" portion, because that's not what I see endorsed in scripture.
21. I see this: "So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you have suffered physically for Christ, you have finished with sin. You won't spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God." 1 Peter 4: 1-2

I do not want to suffer physically for Christ. I'd  just really rather not.

But what this scripture says to me is that God seems to pretty consistently tie "suffering" with "holiness". He seems to believe that it takes some Big Business to knock us off the path of chasing our own desires. He seems to think that when we chase our own desires, we aren't as anxious to do the will of God.

That's what has me troubled. It seems that I need less in order to have more of Him. Less stuff, less money, less pride, less me.

Nothing about my life is suffering. I can't think of a single thing. Of course I don't believe that Jesus wants us to flog each other so we can cross it off the list. I don't think suffering for the sake of suffering is the answer.

But I do think the painful gifts He has given us have started making us more eager to seek Him, and I think much of that "pain" has had money at its root.

As Americans, self-sufficiency is ingrained in us from birth. We are taught to be independent and capable. We invented the phrase "God helps those who help themselves" and we (mis)quote it as scripture. The Bible doesn't tell us to take care of ourselves first, save for retirement, make sure we aren't a drain to the government or others. It doesn't say to do all of those things as long as we tithe 10%.

It says He wants everything. It says He has everything and He's trusting us to do his business with what He loaned us.

So you see the predicament we're all in. We still need some stuff. And we want a whole lot more.

Where do we draw the line? How do we know what's too much? What's enough? What's selfish? What's "sacrificing out of pride"?

I don't know for sure. But I'll tell you what I think tomorrow. Because number one, this post ended up being much longer than I expected; and number two, I have five episodes of Downton to wrap up before I return the dvds tomorrow (a day late).

You're so worth it, Carson.

ps - Branson gives me the creeps.