Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Entitlement: Some thoughts from long ago

“Why shouldn’t I enjoy what God has given me? It lies within my power to enjoy it. Didn’t God make everything for our enjoyment?” These words proe you have no knowledge of God’s will… “Seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33) What if God has made a gift of all things to us, putting them in our hands? Even if all things are lawful, yet “not all things are profitable” (1 Corinthians 10:23), as the apostle Paul says. It was God that gathered the race of humanity into fellowship; He shared out His own goods at first, bestowing His Logos as a corporate possession for all. God made all things for all humans. Common ownership is a reality! The rich may not demand more than their fair share of goods.

If you say, “It is my property, I abound in goods, why shouldn’t I enjoy it?”—that is not a human or social sentiment. What love says is this: “It is in my hand, so I will share it with the needy.” The perfect Christian is the one who embodies the command, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” That is genuine enjoyment! That is accumulating real riches. But what you spend to amuse your silly desires, God registers as loss, not true expenditure. I know God has empowered us to make use of things, but only on the basis of need, and His purpose is the common use of His creation. O how disgusting it is that one human lives in luxury, while most exist in need! How it shines brighter to benefit others than to live in opulence! What a greater wisdom to spend money on people, rather than on gold and jewels! What a greater value to beautify ourselves with friends than with mere dead things! Which brings the richest benefit—amassing property, or showing compassion? In the Gospel, the Lord frankly labels the rich man a fool, when he packs his barns and says to himself, “You have many goods stored up for many years. Eat, drink, be merry!” The Lord says, “This very night your sould will be required of you. Then who will get the things you have stored up?”—Clement of Alexandria, The Tutor, Book 2, chapters 12, 119-20, 125 as quoted in 2000 Years of Christ’s Power, Part 1

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I plan on publishing a review of this book later this week, but for now suffice it to say it was an excellent book that I highly recommend. I'm looking forward to reading the other 3 volumes in the series!
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