Allen Jackson - Dollars and Sense - Part 1
It's good to be with you today. Our topic in this session, it's a question I'm asked a lot, "Is God a Socialist"? You know, in plain language, does it mean when we get to heaven we all get the same thing? I was invited to a Bible study not long ago when they were having a debate on this topic, and they were pretty polarized. One group was saying, you know, there's no differentiation whatsoever. Well, it's an important question. Does God care what we have? And when we step into eternity, will we all be treated in the same way? We're gonna look at that. Get your Bible and a notepad, but most importantly, open your heart.
The title is, "Is God a Socialist"? And I pose it, obviously, as something of a rhetorical question, but it's important. And so, I mean, fundamentally, if you haven't deducted it yet, we're gonna talk about dollars and sense; S-E-N-S-E, not C-E-N-T-S. But is God a socialist? And I'll tell you up front my opinion, God is not a socialist. He doesn't treat us all the same, he just doesn't, the objective of socialism is to level the playing field, everybody has the same thing, gets the same thing, is treated the same way. Human beings will never do that, we have never done that.
There's a fundamental flaw in us, and apart from the redeeming power of God, there's no hope that we would treat one another with equality and fairness. There's just nothing in human history that suggests we do that apart from a transformation that comes from Almighty God from the inside out. There's never been a governmental system or an economic policy that has caused that outcome. But I have to also, I mean, when I say, "God's not a socialist," you don't need a lot of theological discernment. We're not the same, some of us are tall and short, we have different physical gifts, we have different musical gifts, we're different. There's no two of us the same, our thumb prints are different.
Did you know nobody's gonna thumb like yours? When God said, "You were fearfully and wonderfully made," he started right there with that little thumb print; there's nobody like you. Now, you may wish you had somebody else's attributes but there's somebody that wishes they had yours. It's a part of the work of the enemy that makes us dissatisfied and discontent with who God made us to be. You see, I think to fulfillment that will come to our lives when we see the Lord in his fullness, is that we be at peace with who he's made us to be. It's the work of the adversary that makes us dissatisfied, that fills us with envy and covetousness, and a desire to be someone or something else, or to have something that we see someone else has. God did not make us all the same. You don't have to be very clever, it's springtime.
When God made flowers, he made an infinite variety; different colors, different shapes, different sizes, they bloom at different times of the year. It's most remarkable. If the government had made flowers, we'd have one, it'd be gray and it wouldn't bloom. But it's also true that neither is God a capitalist, and we shouldn't be confused about that. The reality is, is God is sovereign over all; it's all his, the whole kit and caboodle. Anything that you and I touch, anything that we put our name on, we're just temporary stewards, even of airplanes, but it's a far more important point than I think we often think about. It's not my time, God has given me whatever days he's entrusted to me for my journey under the sun. They're not my days, they belong to him, he's given me breath today.
It's not my talent or my gifts, God has invested in us a certain set of attributes, but they began in his imagination, they're the result of his creativity, we've been entrusted with them for our journey through time. And they're certainly not my resources, I'm just a steward over them. And if we can make that adjustment within our heart, it makes everything around our lives different. I have an objective with this little study, and it would be to help us begin to craft, and you'll have to do it for yourself, you can't just accept my opinion, but to begin to craft a biblical worldview around the things in your life.
You see, if we understand God's idea, then we're much less susceptible to deception and manipulation. And we're to living in an age of tremendous deception and almost unparalleled manipulation, but God is sovereign over all. Psalm 50, and beginning in verse 9, says God said, "I have no need of a bull from your stall or goats from your pens". Now, the people to whom he's speaking made sacrifices with goats and bulls, and God said just for the record, I don't need your livestock; and then he tells them why. "For every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills".
In fact, any livestock you have penned up came from my herd, I don't need your goats and bulls. God doesn't need my intellect in order to get his agenda accomplished. God's entrusted me with some abilities and I have the opportunity to yield them to him or not, but God's purposes will go forward whether Allen participates or abstains. And then a parallel passage, in Haggai chapter 2, God said, "I will shake all nations". Can I hear an amen? "'And the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,' says the Lord Almighty. 'The silver is mine and the gold is mine,' declares the Lord Almighty". It's all his. I mean, you may have some in your account or you may have some buried in a jar in the backyard, don't acknowledge it, but it's all the Lord's, 'cause we're on a very temporary assignment.
The Bible refers to us as strangers here, pilgrims. We're on a short-term assignment and whatever's been entrusted to you is going back in the kitty. It's a very-very important principle to get established in your heart, it will change how you see life. Now, my best opinion, and it's my opinion, you can disagree with me, I didn't really come for a debate but I think there is financial confusion ahead that will match the confusion we've seen of the last year.
Now, I don't say that to frighten you, because I don't believe fear is necessary or appropriate, God will lead us through. But the underlying premise to that notion, it's not just whimsical. See, I do not believe that we can ignore God's counsel regarding life, family, work, or any other issue, and imagine that our choices have no consequence; there's just nothing in the Scripture that would lead us to that conclusion. In our nation, currently, and no singular party or individual, as a collective whole, and we can't separate ourselves from this as Christians and say, "We have no part in that".
If you read Daniel chapter 9, some of you'll know Daniel's story, Daniel spent his life, when we meet him in Scripture, as a slave in Babylon because of God's judgment upon his covenant people. Because of the hardness of their hearts and their rebellion and their idolatry and their wickedness, God put them under the heel of the Babylonians. Jerusalem is destroyed, the temple is destroyed, and Daniel lives his whole life as a servant in the court of the kings in this foreign country. And in Daniel Chapter 9, Daniel, we're told that Daniel discovered from the study of the book of Jeremiah that it was time for the Jewish people to go home. And he prays a prayer of repentance, but there's not a single verse in that prayer when Daniel prays about them. He says this is what we have done and this is how we have behaved, and we're in exile and our temple was destroyed and our lives have been disrupted because of the hardness of our hearts.
And I believe a significant step towards God's intervention in our lives is when we will stop pointing a finger and we will say, "God, on our watch this is what has happened. In the season when you called us to be salt and light, this is our story". So I'm not pointing an accusing finger anywhere, but I'm telling you, as a nation, we are plunging headlong down a path of rebellion towards God. And from my vantage point, it seems that the church with a capital C is struggling to find our balance. There are many expressions of this in our culture. Our leaders, our elected leaders are passing out money which they didn't earn to distract us from the objectives they're pursuing.
Give us a little something to play with so that we won't pay attention to what they're saying and doing. There are well orchestrated attempts to divide us being unleashed on a daily basis. The things that we have spent decades working towards together are being a recast as reasons for division. And it's as if we can't gain our balance, we can't establish ourselves to acknowledge it or to articulate it, it's coming so quickly and happening so rapidly and it's wrapped up in so many delivery systems. Money is one of these issues; money is being used to foment division amongst us. Our nation is a land of opportunity, that's the label that's been given by the other nations of the world, we are a unique experiment in self-government, which provides opportunity for people. There's just no place quite like it in the world. You have opportunities here not based upon the condition or the circumstances of your birth.
Now, those things that have an impact and make a difference but there are opportunities. Now, I know there are some who'll say it didn't provide opportunity for them, and I believe that can be true. However, just a casual glance at our southern border would suggest that many-many-many-many people think America presents a land of opportunity. However, right now, some of the most powerful voices that we know are using wealth and resources as a point of division amongst us, and they gain support by promising to redistribute our wealth. To be completely candid in good old Southern language, that's just a high-minded term for stealing. How many of you know the fictional character, Robin Hood? Lived in Sherwood Forest. You know the line about Robin Hood is that, "He took from the rich and gave to the poor".
Again, in the plainest of language, Robin Hood was a thief, he wasn't a hero. Morality is another issue being implemented for division and to foment hate. There's a concerted effort to diminish a biblical worldview and to replace it with different standards. It's no accident that churches were declared non-essential and closed. There are hundreds and hundreds of churches across our nation still closed, not because of the science, the reasons aren't exactly clear, nobody's articulating them. But this attempt to silence or to shutter a biblical worldview is not to introduce new ideas, but to remove a biblical worldview from the marketplace of ideas; they don't want it out there.
Now, things like gender confusion or redefining family or sexual ambiguity, those are celebrated, broadly. But a biblical worldview is being denigrated as not relevant, ignoring the millions of us who embrace a biblical perspective on life. The "USA Today," the newspaper published an article this morning stating that Oral Roberts University should be banned from the NCAA men's basketball tournament. Not because they cheated, not because they've stolen, not because of performance enhancing drugs, but the article said they should be banned because they represent an, "Archaic," view of Christianity. We need clarity on something: Christians and a Christian worldview are not irrelevant. And to the extent that God gives us voice and breath and an opportunity we will not be silenced in the face of hatred and bigotry. But in order to take our place, we're going to have to understand a biblical worldview and, for these sessions, particularly regarding resources and their utilization; God has an opinion.
Sometimes we don't ask God's opinion because we don't want it, we want to do what we want. And I think money's one of those categories where we've been a little iffy on whether we really wanted to know what God thought about it, but money is not moral or immoral, money is truly value neutral. What we choose to do with our resources may reflect moral choices but money of itself is not a moral agent. Money, wealth, resources, whatever you prefer, it's such a significant part of our lives we simply can't afford to be biblically ignorant, nor can we be afford to be just unconcerned about God's perspective. Again, in an age of deception and manipulation, we desperately need to understand God's perspective.
Now, words and definitions have a lot of wiggle room as we've come to understand, so we need to unpack that a bit but let me see if I can just hand you some ideas. You can do the work on your own, you can reflect, you can study your Bibles, but I'll open some doorways and ask you to begin to think about them. The first, God's plan of abundance in our lives is grounded in this notion of daily provision. Daily provision, how do I know? Well, in Matthew 6, when Jesus taught us to pray he said, "This is how you should pray: 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.'" And, "Give us today our daily bread".
I don't believe Jesus misspoke, I think if what we were to pray for was that God would give us all the bread we'd ever need, that would've been the prayer. But he invited us to trust God on a daily basis for his provision in our lives. Now, I don't like that, I would rather have the keys to the warehouse that has all the bread I'll ever need already provided so I could go walk barefoot through it. Because there's something in every one of us, or there's certainly something within me that, if I don't give it very careful attention, desires to be independent of God. Why do I want to have to trust him? Well why wouldn't I trust him? Because I want to be God. But God said we can pray, we can trust him for the provision we need for each day, not linked to the state of the economy, not linked to the strength of the dollar, not linked to national or international relations.
That the Creator of heaven and earth is our provider and we've been given permission by our Lord to address the Creator of all things with an application for our daily bread. I would submit you put that into your daily prayer cycle; I still like to eat pretty much every day. The pattern goes back to the beginning of the story. In Exodus chapter 16, the Hebrew slaves have made it out of Egypt and they're on their way to the Promised Land. There's just one slight problem, the path that God has chosen, and God is leading them with pillars of fire and pillars of cloud, is into the wilderness. Not along the coastal plain where there was a road and they would have had access to much greater resources, God's led them into the wilderness. In the Negev Desert there is no water and there is precious little life of any kind for sustenance.
Now, the scholars argue a little bit about how many Hebrew slaves came out of Israel. The lowest number I've ever seen is about 200,000; most scholars come closer to a million people. Let's just split the difference and say it was the population of Rutherford County. Imagine we had to feed everybody had Rutherford County every day. It's gonna take some stuff, right? And so this daily provision, "The Lord said to Moses," Exodus 16:4, "'I'll rain down bread from heaven for you. And the people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way, I'll test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they're to prepare what they bring in, and that's to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.'"
On the day before the Sabbath, get two days' worth because on the Sabbath, no provision. The other days, just get what you need for the day. What do you suppose the people did? They went out and gathered as much as they thought they could carry, and it spoiled. God said I'll give you bread every day, all the food you need. And so you can have a Sabbath, I'll give you enough for two days on that day. It was supernatural provision and it lasted for 40 years while they were in the wilderness. But it was a message delivered in a season of unimagined change.
There's nothing familiar about their lives. Their daily routines are disrupted, their habits are different, their workflow is different, they're not making bricks for Pharaoh any longer. They've become a migrant people, they're transitory people, they've been slaves in the same place for hundreds of years. They missed their old diet, they complained that they can't eat the food the way they used to eat it. Does any of this sound familiar to you? I feel like our lives have been turned upside down, our routines have been changed, our habits of eating, and everything is different. So God gives them a new diet, he gives them new food rules.
Look at Numbers 11, verse 4, "The rabble with them". Did you know that in the midst of the chosen people that God delivered from Egyptian slavery there's a group of people that the Bible describes as, "Rabble"? Here's a life goal: don't you be counted amongst the rabble. "The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, 'If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost...'" excuse me? "Also the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic. But now we've lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna"! God's adjusting their menu. The disruption was important, it was a part of God's plan for them. It was helping them establish a new pattern, a God-directed pattern for a better future; they didn't enjoy it. Have you got room to allow God into your resource pattern, into your life habits, to let God bring new direction? Or do you simply want God to stay at a distance and bless you with what you want when you want in the amount you want? See, there's more to being the people of God and following God than just turning God into a heavenly benevolent uncle; daily provision.
You know, language is being manipulated these days, and that manipulation manipulates us. We have to pay more attention than we've had to, perhaps, in recent years. Words like equality are being replaced with the ideas of equity, equality being we have the same opportunity before the law or the same opportunity in school or the same opportunity with our lives, equity means we get the same outcomes. Equity means someone puts their thumb on the scale to see to it that no matter what input you make or efforts you make, everybody arrives at the same place. Well, I don't believe God is a God of equity. He doesn't give us all the same outcome. He responds to the choices we make in time. There's a heaven and there's a hell, and the determining factor isn't God, it's our choices. We have to pay careful attention to our choices with the Lord. He responds. Let's pray:
God, give us the wisdom to make choices that bring your blessings to our lives. Give us understanding and discernment. May we not be deceived by our current culture. In Jesus's name, amen.