How the Rich Can Make Church a Safe Place for the Greedy
I read Dannah Gresh’s Charisma article How Women Can Make Church a Safe Place for Men and it really struck a chord. Her premise, which isn’t new, is that women need to remember the weaknesses in men and make church a safer place by being mindful about how they dress.
This got me thinking:
Wealthy people, quit making me covet!
There I was sitting in church in some pants from Old Navy and western-style shirt from Goodwill when he walked in. I don’t really remember his face because I was ogling his outfit.
He had on a pair of Armani jeans that seemed like they were tailor made and easily cost more than my car payment. He sat next to me and the air got thinner.
I kept sneaking glances at his salon-quality hair, manicured fingernails, and his $1,800 Omega watch. It awakened in me something quite outside of my control. It was lust really . . . I wanted what I couldn’t have. When he crossed his legs and I got a good look at his John Lobb Oxford shoes, I had to excuse myself to the foyer.
Did you guys check that out?
Turns out I wasn’t the only one. In the lobby, I met four other guys who were already talking about this visitor. And I promise you, none of them were addressing his great character qualities.
Mind you, these are generally godly, Promise-Keeper type guys. But now, they were just a collection of avarice monkeys.
“Did you see his shades? I’m pretty sure they were Bugatti—amazing.”
“Yeah, did you see the Panamera he pulled up in?”
I looked out the window and there it was, silver, shiny, and gorgeous. I made a fist and bit my index finger. Standing next to the car was his driver complete with black suit and driver’s cap.
“I would so ride shotgun in that,” I whispered.
Spiraling out of control
I put $5 in the offering plate that day—and the five following weeks. I quit comparing prices on groceries. I stopped saving Kohl’s cash. Instead of buying a $13 pack of underwear, I bought one pair of Jockeys for $30. I was a mess.
It’s estimated that only 15 percent of Americans would be being middle-class. That’s a scary number. People want more than they have. THIS INCLUDES PASTORS PEOPLE! And it doesn’t make is any easier to maintain the virtues of contentment, gratefulness, and joyful giving when I am forever reminded by your dress that there are people who have nice things.
Come on rich people. Your number one job is to please God and there are tons of biblical admonitions about wealth, greed, coveting, and the like. But you are behaving in ways in church that are making God unhappy—because it exposes my weakness. And let’s be honest, I’m incapable of being responsible for my coveting. So that responsibility is on you.
Start taking responsibility for how you’re controlling me
When push comes to shove, I’m a stupid animal. Don’t get me wrong, I hate the idea of evolution, but when you get right down to it, I have a greed synapse that fires immediately when I see something I want. I can’t control it.
When I see your Italian leather jacket, I just start thinking about the windbreaker I bought at Big 5 and I get angry. Next thing you know, my wife finds me in the basement paying someone $3 a minute to read me descriptions from the Paul Fredrick website.
All because you had to show off.
So what do we do?
Now, I’m not sure how we’re going to take care of this problem. I don’t know who gets to decide what dressing too opulently looks like. I’m not above entertaining the idea of making a cotton jumpsuit the standard church uniform.
Back to the story that opened this post:
I ended up opening up my heart to my wife about how I lost about $450 at casino as I tried to better my financial position. We talked long into the night and she was able to see the shame caused by this rich guy’s indiscriminate show of wealth. She helped me create what we call my “see no evil” lifestyle.
Instead of doing the hard work of considering the challenges of the rich and seeing them as siblings instead of temptations, I’m just going to stop looking at affluence.
From now on our TV is only going to show re-runs of Roseanne. No temptation there. We have filtered any further episodes of Fresh Prince of Bel Air—I’m just too weak for Carlton Banks.
I think we’re finally on to something. Now that we’ve weeded out the potentially negative stimulus, I’m a much godlier person.
Look for my next blog post: How Ignorant People Can Make the World Safe for the Sarcastic