2008/05/26

A Question From The Devil

I’ve been watching TV again. This time I’ve clicked past the glitz of the sparkly clad Joyce Meyer and opted for the folksy down-home preaching of Gloria Copeland. You may know Gloria. She’s the prosperous wife of the prosperous Kenneth Copeland. They’re prosperous.

I’ve got nothing against prosperity, by the way. I wish I had a little more of it to be honest. But I was not all together comfortable with Gloria’s sermon about it.

Gloria says that God wants us to prosper. And, I think that She probably does. I’m just not sure that God and I are on the same page about what prosperity really is. And, I’m not too sure about Gloria either.

Gloria told us that we should tithe, and I agree with that too. She says that if you can’t afford to tithe then, “Man, you need to tithe quick!” She says that if you truly don’t have any money, then you can just go around your house and find some stuff to give away. Don’t send that crap to me though. Give it to Good Will, OK?

Of course, Gloria quoted some scripture for us. She’s a Bible Believer, don’t you know. She seems especially fond of Luke 6:38:

Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

And, you know what, that IS in there. And I believe it’s more or less true, just like everything else in there.

I have a question about that though. And, I’ll tell you where I got my question. I got it from the devil. And before you call Gloria to schedule an exorcism for me let me tell you my question. The question I have this morning is, Why does that matter… all that pressed down, running over business? I mean, is that why we give? Are we motivated only by what’s in it for us? That doesn’t seem quite right to me.

You may not know Gloria Copeland but I’ll bet you do know the devil… especially you Lutherans.

The story is that the devil had just come in from a tour of the world and he went to see God. God asks the devil what he’s been up to and the devil tells God all about his experiences of walking up and down on the earth. So, God asked the devil if he happen to see a fella’ called Job. “He’s upright and blameless,” says God proudly. Unimpressed, the devil responds with our question for today,

Does Job fear God for nothing? Have you not put a fence around him and his house and all that he has? "

"Shoot,” says the devil, “anyone would be faithful to you if you took care of them the way you care for Job.” OK, maybe a little interpretative license there. But, you know what I mean.

If I were speculating, and I am, I’d guess that the devil HAD noticed Job. How else would he have known about the fence? The fence is “…on every side,” the devil reports.

Well, except for a few assorted heathen types, you all are Bible readers. You know what happens next. But, this is not really about Job. We are way off track if you think this is about Job. That would be too easy. This is about us. Why are we faithful?

I suspect that there are as many ways to be faithful as there are lovers of God, and I would also say that there are probably as many reasons. Sometimes I do get something out of it. Maybe a peaceful easy feeling, or a feeling that I am a little bit holy. I love that. I do. Sometimes I even feel that all my praying does something. We're silly creatures, aren't we?

But, again just speculating, I suspect that it is when we get nothing and yet remain faithful that we are truly blessed. It’s a way of believing without seeing. It’s steadfast.

I know, I know… before you say it… I know that it’s hard. And I’m not telling you that you should be faithful. I don’t know why any of us remain faithful. It’s a big mystery to me, people and their responses to God. I can’t even explain my own small faithfulness. But, to be totally honest, I don’t think any of us have fences around us the way Job did. And so I wonder what does motivate us. I think that’s a good question even if it did come from the devil.

I want to make sure that my own answer is more along the lines of loving God, and not so much about the stuff that God might give me.

Just something to think about…

A happy Memorial Day to all. Rowan and I are going out to the lake to see some friends and hang out. Nothing too fancy but a good time will be had by all. Rowan has some new balls and a new shirt which is real sporty. You know how the dog loves to dress up!

I love you all.

13 comments:

Presbyterian Gal said...

That is a question I've wondered too. And wondered about Job.

Devil Doubt Questions. Those are some of the best.

Aren't we in it for ourselves? Isn't eternal salvation a selfish individualistic reward that is our own golden carrot? And wouldn't the earthly rewards of gold and riches be a path diverting distraction from that big prize?

Or am I asking another devilish question?

Love you too and have the best time at the lake!

Lindy said...

If you keep asking questions you may just turn into an Anglican!

It is impossible to know the heart,what motivates it. Ours or anyone elses. Still, good questions!

And may God put a fence around you and your neighbors to rival Job's!

FranIAm said...

Oh Lindy, Lindy - oh Lindy.

My jaw has dropped and my heart has flown open and my mind... it is everywhere.

What a post - it reminds me of the Rilke poem I can't quite shake, about living the questions.

My faith is for me, a connection to an energy and to me that energy is God. And that faith and the deep, deep love that accompanies it is made manifest only when I am in community.

As I am here and with other bloggers and lots of people IRL.

Sometimes I feel a void where my faith lives in my heart. When that happens I am still - sometimes for moments, sometimes for days actually.

Then it returns - there is no accounting for grace, is there?

All is gift.

Thank you and so much love to you as well.

Lindy said...

Yes. All is a gift. Until you claim it.

Ann said...

Thanks for these thoughts -- you cause me to go beyond the surface.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Lindy, you've written some excellent words in the last few days while I've been away, and I hardly know where to start. I have too many blogging friends to read them all every day or even every other day.

What comes to my mind from your words, is that the truest way to relate to God is to love God because she loves us infinitely. To approach the throne of grace with purity of heart is simply to approach in love for the sake of love, expecting nothing in return, but to continue to be loved. Of course, the return comes, because we can't outdo God in bestowing grace.

It's a terrible skewing of the Gospel to expect God to give us prosperity. That seems so very wrong to me.

I love you, too, Lindy.

sharecropper said...

Oh, I agree. The devil questions are the best, but then, I'm an Episcopalian/Anglican; so that's okay.

When we give in love, we give to God. And, we're told to give all our troubles to God also. Usually the image for that is open palms outstretched in front of the person. However, it's not until we turn our hands over and let whatever is in them drop into God's hands that we are truly giving to God.

So my image for faithfulness is outstretched hands with palms down. And, I think we have to give to others in the same way. Let it go, let it fall. Don't wait for someone to pick it up. Just let it go.

Diane said...

I was here before and I didn't leave a comment because I didn't know quite what to say (heh. me. speechless).

You are so right about the story of Job, and the satan's question about Job's faithfulness.

Do we just love God because God gives the "goodies"?

Lindy said...

Fran, I think you are thinking of Rilke's Letters To A Young Poet. There are a wad of 'em. Not sure how many. But in the passage you reference Rilke goes on to say that it's no good looking for answers. The ting is to live the questions and in so doing you may find yourself experiencing, but maybe not "knowing" an answer. No guarantees though. You do it for sheer love of the question. Very good point. I wish I'd thought to blog that!

Ann, you too!

Grandmère Mimi, I think God does grant a kind of prosperity. Just not the kind of richness you take to the bank.

I like your imagery a lot ShareCropper. Thanks for that.

Diane, you don't have to comment but I'm always wondering what you are thinking. We are going to have to face-to-face one of these days.

You all are the greatest commentators! Thanks.

Diane said...

Personally, I think that PG hits the nail on the head. It's not JUST material prosperity. Is our faith just about us getting "saved"? Is it just about us getting rich? Is it just about us, period? I think Jesus says "no." And Paul, whom some of us love to hate, also says no. Here's one of my favorite passages of the New Testament (2 Corinthians 5)

"He died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them."

heh. Living no longer for ourselves. what would THAT look like?

Grandmère Mimi said...

heh. Living no longer for ourselves. what would THAT look like?

Diane, indeed!

Lindy said...

OK, I hear you. And I agree. But, what does it look like? On the ground I mean. Is is about just being faithful with no hope of getting anything out of it? Just saying our prayers? Or is there something else.

This sort of ties in with what ShareCropper said about just letting go. How much responsibility do we have/take for tomorrow? How much should we have/take?

Probably like you, I was raised to think I was responsible for saving my money, making investments, and having a little wad to see me thorough the hard times and to help my community. But, that does involve quite a lot of "care for the morrow."

One of the most provocative posts I read last week was Ann Fontaine's sermon on this very thing. You all know Ann, she's in the tribe. Here's a quote:

"Jesus offers a variety of views about money, not all are about giving everything away but all are concerned about our anxiety and tendency to live in a scarcity model of being."

And it's the scarcity model that gets me. I don't mind giving. But, I am careful that I always have plenty for me and mine. And, if my nest egg is threatened I get a hard knot in my stomach and get grouchy. So, am I living for him who died or am I living to ensure my own comfort on this mortal coil?

What would really happen if we took no care for tomorrow? I know I'm not doing it. Just last week I bought an outfit that I don't intend to wear until August, after all. So, obviously I am going way beyond TOmorrow.

As usual I don't have a pat answer for you but this is one of the questions I'm living with.

Lindy said...

Ann's sermon is here.