Saturday, November 03, 2007

Power and the Kingdom of God

My in-laws home in Wisconsin is a house of reading. My father-in-law is retired and reads voraciously (his specialty is 19th century British novels--in the last two years I believe he's read all of Austen, most of Dickens, as well as most of Anthony Trollope and Wilkie Collins). When I'm here, I usually take time to read their issue of Christianity Today. The November issue has a number of articles that resonated on the same frequency in my mind: the theme of Power and the Kingdom of God. (None of which seem to be online yet. Rrrrgh.)

The cover story is about doing "business as mission": setting up for-profit companies that provide jobs and Christian witness in places where both are lacking. My gut reaction was unease; Business people are trained to make money, not do missions. That reaction was chastised in a related article, which complained about how theologically trained people develop a reflex rejection of people who make money. The same point came up in an article about the "Evangelical Elite" and in Philip Yancey's final editorial.

Guilty as charged, I guess.

I want to be careful on this blog (and more importantly, in my spirit) that I don't look down on business people. The business world never appealed to me; my temperament (INTJ, if your curious) as much as anything else has pushed me into academic and theological interests. Of course, my temptation is to tell myself that some kind of inherent moral superiority sets me apart from crass, mundane things like making money.

The biblical critique of money needs to be heard. But it should be seen as broader than a critique of business people. It's a critique of the exercise of power in the Kingdom of God, and I'm probably as hungry for power as any godless capitalist (just less skillful at getting it).

I'm trying to figure out how to end this post by making myself look good, but I guess that's falling into the old trap again, so I'll end here.

1 comment:

Special K said...

Yeah, some will say that as some are called to be poor, others are called to be wealthy and use their wealth wisely, but I say I'd rather be poor. I don't know from whence it comes, but I always feel overwhelmingly guilty about all the material and social blessings I've been afforded throughout my entire life.

I also get an uneasy feeling whenever money and ministry claim to go hand in hand, but I guess someone has to minister to those haughty elites! I'm glad it's not me, because I have little tolerance for consumerism and fashionable society, and those that do have little tolerance for my disregard for social norms!