Thursday, October 20, 2011

Loving God with heart, soul, mind, strength and wallet?

Jesus was asked in the temple what the greatest commandment was. The implication was that the people doing the asking were somehow trying to trap him. The question is a pretty easy one and one that most Rabbis would answer the same way. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbour as yourself." These commandments, one from Deuteronomy and one from Leviticus are really the heart and soul of everything in the Bible. If we get this, we pretty much get the rest.

The problem is that we don't get it. We want to draw a circle. These people, us and our friends, are in. Those people aren't. Since they aren't in we are free to call them names, or tell them they need to change in order to be in. Names like liberal, conservative, right wing, leftist, fascist, socialist, 99% or 1%. So there we are empathizing with the 99% and blaming the 1%. They are the problem. If only they would get it the world would be saved, global warming would be reversed and we would all be able to frolic in a flawless utopian world.

Let's be honest with ourselves. It isn't going to happen. Not that the 1% won't get it, though I think it's unlikely, but that the world would be perfect if they did. We have as much capacity to mess things up as anyone else. Most of us do our jobs, spend our money at Walmart, or some similar store, then go home and watch TV or post comments on FB. Maybe we take our kids to hockey, Maybe we go to church on Sunday. But do we really give everything we are to loving God?

Probably not.

Especially when it comes to the wallet. Oddly enough this vital part of our lives was left out of the Great Commandment.  How do we love God with our wallets? Perhaps we support charity or give to the church. That's good, but how do we decide how much to give? Most people figure out their budget than tack charity onto the end as an after thought. Do we buy that new Xbox game or give money to the church? If you give more than $1500 a year to charity you are among the top 5% of philanthropists in the country! That's less than 5% of the average income in Canada. The average charitable donation deduction is more like a couple of hundred dollars. We 99% in this country don't do too well in spreading the little wealth we have around.

What would happen if we put our wallets where our heart, soul, mind and strength is supposed to be? If we loved our neighbours as much as we loved ourselves, or at least a lot more than our charitable giving seems to suggest?

Money is power, and even if we don't have as much as the 1%, we still have a fair bit. Let's not wait for the 1% to get it. Let's get it ourselves and start living, and giving, as if God mattered to our wallets as well as our hearts. After all Jesus said that our hearts will follow our treasure.

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