15 Oct Our Riches at Christ’s Expense
God created the heavens and the earth. The heaven, even the heavens are the Lord’s: but the earth He has given to the children of men. We are amazed to behold the beauty and riches on the earth. The earth is full of everything man needs in abundance-water, oxygen, flora and fauna, fertile land, minerals, crude oil under the ground and in the bed of the sea, vast oceans and limitless sky. But we have more poor people than the rich ones here. More huts and slums exist than mansions. The gap between the have-nots and the haves is becoming wide. Numbers of the poorest of the poor keep increasing more than the number of billionaires. A few wealthy men control all the available resources. There are more people in bondage’s than in the free world. Our world and its systems are full of discriminations and inequalities.
In contrast, how awesome is the dwelling place of God, full of riches and wealth. Heaven is the real place full of glory of God. Its brilliance is like a precious jewel, like a stone of crystal-clear jasper. The construction of its wall was of jasper and was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundations of the wall are adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth and twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates are twelve pearls: each individual gate of one pearl. The street is pure gold, like transparent glass. A pure river of the water of life, clear as crystal, proceeds from the throne of God and the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, is the tree of life which bears twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of tree are for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curses, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it and His servants shall serve Him.
God the Son, the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation, creator of all things that are in heaven and earth-visible and the invisible, whether thrones or principalities or powers, forsook all the glory, riches and opulence of heaven, confined and clothed Himself with rags of flesh and stooped to this sinful and unequal world. When He was born, there was no room in the inn. He was born in a manger filled with hay in a stable with swaddling clothes around Him which no poor can ever think of. Here on earth his earthly father, Joseph, was a manual labourer — a carpenter, a trade that He himself apparently later adopted and worked manually. At His birth Joseph and Mary were poor enough to qualify to offer two pigeons at the birth purification ceremony rather than the usual yearling lamb. During his earthly ministry, He attended to and identified with many from the lower classes — including prostitutes, orphans, widows, and other social and economic outcasts. He declared that “foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head”. During his ministry he apparently had no home, no land and no regular income. Borrowing was a common practice during His earthly ministry as He did not possess any treasure on earth. He borrowed a boat to preach, food to multiply, a colt on which to ride, a room to meet for the Last supper and even a tomb in which to be buried. During His earthly journey and ministry He also frequently interacted with the religious elite, such as scribes, Sadducees, and Pharisees, as well as members of the Sanhedrin, including Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea. He also ministered to powerful and wealthy individuals like the rich young ruler, the centurion and a number of tax collectors, including Levi and Zacchaeus. He treated the rich and the poor alike. He never discriminated. He occasionally attended public parties and feasts, graciously received costly gifts from His followers, and accepted invitations to dine with the rich and powerful and used investment analogies in order to illustrate His parables.
This Son of God and Son of man is the only begotten Jesus. Every beast of the field is His. He owns cattle on a thousand Hills. The world and its fullness belong to Him. He was given away out of supreme love of God to human beings. Christ Jesus, who being the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bond servant and coming in the likeness of man. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death. He became acquainted with sorrow and grief. He had no estates or plantations; He had no splendid palaces; He had no money hoarded in useless coffers or in bonds. He had no property to distribute to His friends. He commended His mother to the care of one of His disciples at the time of His death. All His personal property seems to have been only the clothes which He wore and even that was divided among the soldiers who executed His crucifixion. He formed no plan for becoming rich. Life and ministry of Jesus is a real life journey from riches to the rags. Though He was rich, for our sakes he became poor, so that we through His poverty might become rich. He was rich. He became poor. ‘Rich’ can mean possession of divine fullness and independence. ‘Poor’ can mean possession of human infirmity, dependence and emptiness. The Bible Commentators note that to be both was impoverishment for Jesus. In Christ Jesus, all divine and temporal blessings Abraham enjoyed are ours. He promised eternal and abundant life to all in exchange of His life. He made us heirs with God and co-heirs with Him of all the treasures here and heaven above. And God is able to make all grace come to us in abundance so that we may always under all circumstances and whatever the need be self-sufficient. We are not called to poverty but to all sufficiency and possessing enough for every good work. The life of Jesus sets forth as the pattern to which our lives are to be conformed. When we have wealth more than we need, we need to practice giving away to the poor, needy, God’s Kingdom and His ministers. By liberal giving we’ll store up treasures in heaven where neither moths nor rust destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. As the Lord sacrificed Himself and all He had, with our sacrificial giving, lives will be transformed and the nations will be healed, touched and experience the grace of the Lord to be rich in all spheres. At the same time it is important to be content with what we have. Let us remember the proverbial counsel: The blessings of the Lord makes one rich, And He adds no sorrow with it.
Scripture references: Gen.1:1, Psa.115:16,Rev.21:18-21,Rev.22:2-3,Col.1:15-16, Matt.13:55,19:16-24,25:14-30,Luke2:24,John12:1-3,Phil.2:6-9,2Cor.8:9, I Tim 6:17-19, Heb 13:5,Gal.3:9, John 10:10,Rom 8:17, 2Cor. 9:8, Prov.10:22.
Dr. NANDA DULAL
The author works in a Government Department and is presently based in Bangalore.