Is there a dichotomy?
Are they juxtaposed?
Faith and the Gospel open with a Biblical, middle eastern, worldview – very different from the way westernised people generally approach life, and especially finance.
For Christians faith is “a strong belief based on spiritual conviction rather than on proof”. Faith is a personal mystery and maybe shared amongst people through understandings and expressions and practice. It is first and foremost a personal aspect of life and worldview.
Finance has another worldview. Finance is about money and any measure of it must be by proofs. There is always quantity when considering finance.
Finance is about the monetary resources and affairs of an individual person, a group of people, and entities of all types and sizes.
One of the particular points that arises in the dichotomy between Faith and Finance is that finance highlights quite different aspects of life to faith. Finance must be quantified to be known whereas faith is actually a mystery, it is spiritual, and is not measurable in any practical sense. Finance is about numbers in a currency, and is often thought to be a sign of success so that more finance means more success. Faith on the other hand is spiritual and has no measure related to success or failure.
Finance tends to identify division – people and organisations are easily categorised: have’s and have not’s, rich and poor, countries ‘north and south’, developed and non-developed, the “other side” (of town, the tracks, of the suburb), homeless and disadvantaged people, expectations of Faith and Finance (entitled or earned)
These tags are used very often to point to the differences between the people and countries. Certainly they are used more often to deride certain groups and countries, or even regions.
No matter how we like to think about finance it is always measured in quantities of money or its substitute.
Faith is totally different – or at least it is meant to be different.
Faith, when shared collectively amongst people, is generally named as a religion. These people will share similar understandings and expressions and practices.
Sometimes faith is used to deride people when it is named in terms of a religion (this or that religion)- but this is not what faith is actually about and it is not of the manner in which we are discussing faith here.
In this series of articles we will be exploring Faith and Finance as relates to our local circumstances.
I remember a few years ago sitting with a man talking about faith and the Bible
We were sitting on the front steps of his small home in a slum in Manila, Philippines. Our family was living in his slum neighbourhood which was a fairly big area in Metro Manila, surrounded by big homes and gated communities (ie big fences like walls with guards or security locking) – an intimidating environment.
It was a relatively short stay for us, about 2 months, and in that time we were living and sharing life with people, families, in their area. For the local people many of them had been there for 20 or more years – so they were well established with “semi permanent” type buildings for their homes.
We talked about faith in Jesus and what it means to be a disciple, and we talked about the Bible and how we can learn so much in there. Sadly, he had not learned much about the scriptures but relied on what others, especially the priests, told him.
My friend didn’t realise how much God loved him, and his family, personally and that God would talk with him. He didn’t realise that God loved him even though he was very poor and had little to support his family or give to others. I was able to tell him that God did love him because he was poor and God honoured his Faith.
Soon after that encounter we returned to our home in Sydney, Australia. Later, we heard from our friends in Manila that that slum was bulldozed and the people scattered (relocated) to outside the city. The new owners of the land wanted it for themselves – it was all about money.
When we catch some of the basic views of both Faith and Finance then we are able to get a view of what is actually happening with our Faith and Finance here and now. For Christians there has been so much diverse teaching and practice related to both Faith and Finance and these impact the way we view and understand Faith and Finance in our ordinary lives as well as in our churches.
Church history abounds with trends about what was acceptable and not acceptable regarding Faith and Finance, how God views both and what Jesus teaches about both Faith and Finance. We invite you to come on this journey together, and explore the nature of Faith and Finance and how they are for us, personally and as believers and as congregations.
Is there a dichotomy between Faith and Finance?
How can we deal with ideas that juxtapose Faith and Finance?
Share with us your experience on this subject in the comments section below.
What is your experience of this dichotomy?