This is what we’re about – changing minds, changing hearts, changing the world.
(This photo taken at the University of Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa)
Jesus’s conversations and teachings about wealth and giving always make me nervous. He doesn’t seem to be in tune with how I feel about my money and resources. In Luke 12 Jesus tells us about a rich man who built himself several barns to store all his goods for many years. Sounds like a sound financial idea. But his life is cut short and so are his chances to store up eternal treasures.
Next, Jesus tells us to look to the birds and the flowers as evidence that the Lord will care for us. I have to admit, I don’t often look at the crows in our neighborhood and think, “yep, there’s the proof that God will take care of me.” As much as I enjoy the flowers all around us at this time of year, I often fail to see them as visible reminders of the Lord’s promise to clothe and care for us.
So, I appreciate Jesus’s words that follow these examples, “Fear not, little flock, for it is God’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
I need that encouragement to be brave. To feed the poor, to care for the needy, to give up my possessions. To believe that treasure in heaven is a real thing and that it matters. I believe in solid investments and herein lies the ultimate version – investments that will bear dividends for all eternity.
I know that where your treasure is is where your heart is. I see that every day in myself and the world around me. No more pertinent words about the human condition did Jesus ever speak. Where is your heart? Take a look at your treasure, where you’re banking and investing, and you’ll gain a clue.
Isn’t it interesting that in all the conversations about the crisis inflicting the Islamic faith – I’m thinking of young Muslims killing themselves and scores of innocent people as part of the militant outworking of their beliefs – that none of these conversations bring up the life of the founder of Islam?
Muhammad founded the Islamic religion and immediately began spreading the faith. His methodology involved conquering the cities around him and forcing their citizens to convert to Islam. This type of conversion has never really stopped. The people of any land Muslim forces have taken over in the past have been forced to convert to Islam or face severe consequences. ISIS is simply following suit. Conversion at the point of the sword.
Contrast that with the founder of Christianity. Jesus teaches us to turn the other cheek, to do good to those that hurt us. While Muhammad tells his followers to subjugate their enemies and conquer in the name of Allah, Jesus teaches us to love our enemies. Unfortunately, much conquering and warfare have been done throughout history in the name of Christ, but these actions do not reflect the founder’s desires for interactions between people. Muhammad brings a different modus operandi. His teachings and the life he led reveal his belief that might and power and subjugation work. Love is trampled under the boots of the conquerers.
Is it any wonder that followers of Islam read the texts proscribed by Muhammad and take them seriously? Of course they do, it’s what any true follower of a religion or belief system does. When the founding father led by violence then we should not be surprised that we see violence in the actions of his followers. It’s hard to make a case otherwise.
Better by far to follow the Prince of Peace. Jesus is the Savior of all peoples. Ironically and hopefully, Jesus is considered a prophet by those of the Muslim faith. Let’s pray and encourage our fellow seekers of God to find the true King, the Prince of Peace, and turn toward his timeless teachings of peace and love.