Allen Jackson - A Biblical Worldview - Part 1
It's good to be with you today. Our topic is a question: Is God a Socialist? Spoiler alert: He's not. We don't all get the same thing when we step out of time. We don't all get the same thing in our journey through time. We have different gifts, different abilities, different opportunities, but God is just and he is the one that we trust to bring justice to our lives, not governments. This is really a lesson on biblical worldview and how to understand scripture in the light of the challenges that life brings to us. I believe it'll bring some freedom. Grab your Bible and notepad, but most importantly, open your heart to what God has for you today.
Just to give us a context, we said that God's plan for our lives is abundance, that's what he told us he would do. God promised abundance. When he created the earth, the abundance of the earth was for humanity. We're not just the top rung of the evolutionary ladder, everything in all creation was put under the authority of humanity. Now, we have a stewardship responsibility but our first and primary reassignment is to worship Almighty God. And if you put stewardship of the earth and its resources above worship you're an idolater, and it won't work out well. There is another worldview that is very prevalent these days that tells us that the worship of our environment should be first and foremost. There are people in the scientific community that say the human population should be diminished because it would be better for the planet.
Abundance is God's intent for us, and what he promised us was daily provision. You know this fundamentally. When Jesus taught us to pray the Lord's prayer, he said, "Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be your name". Do you remember the prayer? I bet you've prayed that prayer once or twice. "Hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us," you do know that prayer? "Give us today our daily bread". But you see, that's not what Allen wants. The old carnal part of Allen, I don't want my daily bread, I want all the bread for all the days I've got and I'd like it locked up in a climate-controlled warehouse so that every afternoon I can go walk barefoot through it. 'Cause if it's on a daily basis, I have to trust God for tomorrow.
And there's just an enormous battle inside of every one of us to be in charge, to push God off the throne and to place ourselves on the throne, we'll be the decision makers. But God said he'll provide for us what we need every day, so our job is to learn to trust him. And then God defined abundance for us, and I used 2 Corinthians chapter 9, in verse 8, as our definition for that. I know you don't have all these in your notes, but you can check. It says that, "God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, [you'll have all that you need for every good work.]" Through God's grace, not through our merit, not through our ability, not through the economy, not through anything else. Through God's grace we will have all things that we need at all times, to abound unto every good work. That's God's promise to you and to me. That's a good place to live.
Now, the challenge with that is this notion of, "Wealth is relative". I interact with lots and lots of people and I very seldom meet somebody that says, "Oh no, I'm rich," because no matter how much, how many resources you've accumulated, you know someone has accumulated more. And it seems a little awkward to say, "Oh, I'm rich," so it's such a relative discussion. We need a little perspective. There's about 8 billion people in the world, 5 billion, 5 of those 8 billion people earn less than $10 per day. I'll go out on a limb and say most of us who are working in here earn significantly more than $10 a day. So, from a global standpoint, the one of us with the least is wealthy. Say, "I don't feel wealthy," I didn't ask about your feelings. This really isn't subjective. "Well, I know people that have more". Understood.
It's a very arbitrary thing and you need some help because the enemy will sow discontent and frustration, or pride and arrogance. If we have abundance for today God has kept his promise, and we can trust him for tomorrow. It's very subjective, age is subjective. You know, when I was 12 or 14, if I spent that day working with somebody who was 21, I thought I'd spent the day with an old person. I mean, they were like really old. A lot of times on the weekend I'll interact with the children in the lobby, and I get down on my knee and I'll be talking a little four and five-year-olds, and occasionally, it comes out they can't even imagine how somebody at my age can still move. And I'm young, just ask me.
Third, we said priorities matter, God gets to choose priorities for our time and talent and treasure. And then we looked at the difference between abundance and prosperity. From a biblical perspective, abundance is a blessing and poverty is a curse. You don't have to avoid your resources. There's been a mistaken notion that flourished in Christianity that somehow poverty was a holier place, not true. You can have nothing and be filled with greed and envy and covetousness; most of us have had a little walk through that valley. We talked about contentment. The Bible says that, "Godliness with contentment is great gain". Where we don't cultivate contentment, and it has to be cultivated, it's not intuitive, you have to purposely let it grow in your heart. If you don't purposely grow contentment, the enemy will sow things like envy and covetousness and greed, and they're never satisfied, they're never content.
Recognize your internal struggle. If you're not in a contented place, begin to talk to the Lord about it. Folks, our problem is not the condition of the wicked. The challenges we're facing have more to do with the attitude and the hearts of God's people. And then we looked at the fact that biblically, money moves. Money's not static, it's either moving towards you or away from you, and your choices impact what's coming your way, whether they are blessings or something else. Some of you are not sure you believe me and I don't have time to reiterate all of that with you, but Proverbs 22:4 says, "Humility and the fear of the Lord brings wealth, honor and life".
How many of you would like a truckload of wealth, honor and life? About a third of you, what do the rest of you want? Poverty, dishonor and an early exit? So how would you accumulate? How would you orchestrate your life so that wealth, honor and life would be yours? They come indirectly, you don't go pursue them, you pursue humility and the fear of the Lord, and that will bring those things to you. "I don't believe that". I know, that's why I read it to you. You need to think about it, meditate on it. And then the Bible gives us a perspective on money that we need to be conscious of. It says that money contains the seeds of deception. Money contains the seeds of deception, that left unchecked by the Spirit of God, financial resources, however they come to us, in whatever age and however they are measured, if you combine those with our carnal nature apart from the Spirit of God, they result in deception.
Proverbs 18, verse 11, says, "The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it as an unscalable wall". We imagine we have enough resources that we can protect ourselves from the trials and the challenges of life. I've been with too many people with significant resources in the midst of broken places to believe that deception.
Folks, our stuff doesn't secure our future. It's the folly of our nation right now, we don't think we have to be fiscally responsible, and it's just nuts. Matthew 13, in verse 22, says, "The one who received". It's Jesus's Parable of the Farmer Sowing the Seed in the four different locations and Jesus gives us an explanation, and this is just one of them. "The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the Word [of God], but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful". So Jesus described wealth as being deceitful. Now, you're saying, "I'm not wealthy," but we've already talked about that, yes you are. 5 billion people in the world would say you are. If 5 billion people vote for you, you're elected. The majority of the world would look at every one of us and go, "Wow".
So Jesus said we've got to be cautious now, because we're subject to the deception of that, the deceitfulness of that. What are some common deceptions regarding money or wealth? It's an interesting list, you can build your own, I started one just to kinda help you imagine it. Some of us are deceived into thinking that more money would make me happy. If you can't be content where you are, more won't make you more content. Some of us are deceived into thinking that, "Resources can secure my future". You can't accumulate enough resources to secure your future, our world is caught in a tsunami of change and the future is not exactly a parent; our security is in God himself.
Another deception that's very common today is that some people have too much money. Who appointed you to make that decision? That's deception, that is deception. Another deception is that wealthy people did something inappropriate to accumulate their wealth. Really? As if poor people didn't do something inappropriate to accumulate whatever they have. Inappropriate is not about wealth or the lack thereof, it's about our heart condition. Don't believe those deceptions, don't let them grow in your heart, don't foster them, don't think about them, don't meditate on them. Pull them out by the root, repent, tell the Lord you're sorry, you're robbing yourself of God's blessings. Some of us believe the deception that, "I have a right to more". No we don't, it's just a lie.
Some of us believe the deception that, "It's my money". No, it's the Lord's. He's the one, the Bible says, that gives us the power to accumulate wealth. I have a friend, he's a very smart business person, been remarkably successful and he and I had have had a number of discussions about that. I said one time, "You have been blessed," and his response was, "I've worked hard". And I smiled and I said, "I know you do," 'cause he does, he works extraordinarily hard, for many years. I said, "But to your hard work, God has added his blessings". I'm not sure we really ever agreed. See, it's possible to work desperately hard but not be blessed by it.
But the last one here is that, in God's economy, work matters. In fact, it's more important than I think that the church has understood. 1 Thessalonians 5, in verse 14, says, "We urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everybody". In the same sentence which says, "Help the weak," it says to encourage those, "Warn those who are idle," tell them not to stay idle. "I don't like work". Okay, go do it anyway. "Well, it's not fulfilling to me".
I'm sorry, you're confused, that's called vacation. Hobbies are fulfilling, work is the place where you go where you wouldn't go unless somebody paid you. We have mis-cached it, we want our jobs to be fulfilling. "I want to get up in the morning and be so excited about my job that day that I'll be overwhelmed with waves of anticipation". Me too, and there are some days when I have that sense of joy and fulfillment in what I do, but there are some days where it just feels like work. Go sit down and write a sermon. "Well, I don't feel particularly anointed". Nobody asked, fake it until you get there.
Proverbs 6, in verse 6, says, "Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise"! In the Living Bible, be as smart as a bug, at least try to be as smart as a bug. Consider the ant, "It has no commander, no overseer, no ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man". Remember, we said that money and resources move towards you or away from you? What will cause them to abandon you? "A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands," a little inattentiveness to your assignments.
God created us to work. When we meet God in the opening chapter of the Bible, he's working. He works six days before he rested, and he's called us to work on his behalf. It's not our life, it's his, and we have had, I believe to a great extent, and unbiblical view of work. I look forward to the day when employers are anxious to hire Christians because they're the best workers available. Our character, our integrity, our willingness to deliver value for the day sets us apart from people who don't have a Christian worldview. So I want to take the moments we have left and step away a bit from these more specific principles and see if we can start to craft these into some of the larger components that come with a biblical worldview of our treasure, our time and our talents.
Again, because I think there's so many ideas that are rampant within the church, I'm not talking about people beyond the church, that we have drunk so deeply of the secular culture that we're almost indistinguishable from the world in how we think about things. And I'll start with this notion that family matters. Family matters. The biblical presentation of family, marriage between a man and a woman, and their children, is the fundamental building block of the story of Scripture. It's not a casual thing to redefine that, everything begins to unravel. Now, I don't believe God's ideas are old-fashioned, but when we talk about things it comes back to that initial system that God identified.
Exodus chapter 22, we'll look at the New Testament, but in Exodus 22, in verse 22, it says, "Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear them. And my anger will be aroused, and I'll kill you with the sword;" but not just you, "Your wives will become widows and your children fatherless". So is it safe to say God has an opinion? That we've been given an assignment to have concern for the widow and the orphan. I think that idea lives in the consciousness of much of the church, but that idea lives in the consciousness as much in the secular culture. We're a little less informed on some of the rest of the story.
In 1 Timothy chapter 5, in verse 3, Paul's giving some instructions to Timothy as they shepherd the churches. He said, "Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need". He's restating what we just read, but now he's gonna add some context. "If a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God". He just said we should train our children and grandchildren to care for those who are older than them. It seems to me we do the opposite, we avoid it.
"The widow who's really in need and left all alone put your hope in God and continues night and day to pray and ask God for help. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. Give the people these instructions, so that no one may be open to blame. If anyone doesn't provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he's denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever".
He said we have responsibilities within our family systems to care for one another and that we have to train the younger generations to be aware of those responsibilities. We don't train them just with our words, we model it with what we've done for the generations who preceded us. We've drifted a long way away from that, we try to avoid it, we don't even want to meditate and think about it. Verse 9, he goes on, "No widow may be put on the list of widows unless," the fact that she's a widow doesn't qualify, there's a qualifier, "Unless she's over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds. As for younger widows, don't put them on [the] list".
Family matters, that idea has to come back into the heart of the church. It's why we can't surrender to redefining the family, 'cause society will unravel, it won't work. It's not about hate or rejecting people, we understand what's fundamental and foundational. Family brings with it responsibility. And if we avoid our responsibility and imagine someone or something else should avoid it, we step away from God's perspective. Family brings with it responsibility, parental responsibility, children and grandchildren have responsibility as well. Government is not our source. And just in case you're not clear, governments don't have money, they have our money.