Recently at Union Church, five smooth operators rang the front bell and entered the secure Church grounds (a sad sign of the times that we need security at a Church). Their pretext? They wanted more information so they could “join us” at one of our four different Worship Services. The reality? They executed a well rehearsed plan: two of them kept two of our University students occupied while they taking their lunch break out in the sunny courtyard. Two other accomplices entered the library areas where the students had been studying and stole a brand new Macintosh laptop computer. One cased the Sanctuary, seeking treasure from heaven. They re-gathered in the courtyard where they coolly thanked everyone for their “help” and walked then out.

The entire disgusting event was recorded on several of our closed circuit security cams (another sad sign of our times). Here’s what made the theft especially devastating for one of the students: he had just borrowed the computer for the day from a friend, promising to take excellent care of it. The theft left ripples of pain and brokenness, not the least of which I noted to the victims – when you come to a place devoted to worshipping God, shouldn’t there be an expectation of safety and security?

What cause someone to become a thief? What could possibly allow me to justify taking another’s property and claiming it as my own? I believe there are two things broken here, either of which - or both of which - can cause another to justify these actions. One is a broken economic system, allowing some to have so much while others nearby have near to nothing. The second is a person who is so broken, they feel they “deserve” what others possess. 

Marx and Nietzsche taught that economic systems needed socializing in order to protect the poor and to redistribute wealth. To them, this “taking from the rich and giving to the poor” structure provided justice. Of course, neither man lived consistently with his beliefs. They imposed their ideas on the bourgeois elite whom they called “exploitive”. But they, themselves, lived comparatively comfortable lives.

My mother was raised in a socialist commune in Llano just outside of Los Angeles, California back in the 1920’s. Grandpa sunk his entire and considerable life savings into this commune. He believed firmly in the justice of his socialistic cause. As an architect, he designed and built all the numerous structures for the small community. But most of the leadership were more interested in a “good time” on weekends when they traveled into the big city, LA, than they were in furthering their socialistic philosophy.

Jesus’ censured a similar group, the Pharisees, who exploited the poor and spiritually poor in Christ’s day. Jesus warned his followers, “…they don’t practice what they teach. They crush people with impossible religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden. Everything they do is for show”. (Matthew 23:4-4)

Some claim the Bible clearly teaches socialism. In fact, the Bible clearly teaches we are too broken for socialism to ever work. The socialistic system, whatever merits it may possess outwardly, could never work because those who purport it are unable or unwilling to live up to its demands.

In 1 Samuel 2:7 it says,
The LORD makes some poor and others rich;
    he brings some down and lifts others up.

This means that socialism is not God’s current plan for humanity. Some have plenty, some less. Jesus said in Mark 14:7 that we could help the ever-present poor anytime we want (indicating that those who have are responsible to help those who have not). It is a Christian’s purpose to bless others. Why? Because God has blessed us. Christians sacrificially give to others as a way to express our love for God, who sacrificed His very life for us.

So what is God’s response when I want something and I cannot obtain it except through theft?

Hebrews 13:5
5Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said,
    “I will never fail you.
    I will never abandon you.”

This means that God says you shouldn’t long for “stuff”. Our longing should be satisfied by God. Those who long for “more stuff” are never ever satisfied because as the old saying goes: “How much more money does it take to be satisfied? Always one more dollar”.

Psalm 37:7, 16
Be still in the presence of the LORD,
    and wait patiently for him to act.
    Don’t worry about evil people who prosper
    or fret about their wicked schemes…
 It is better to be godly and have little
    than to be evil and rich.

This verse means that if you wait patiently for God to meet your needs, focus on what God has already given to you,  and quit focusing on what you do not have, you will find the very quality you thought would be yours due to more money. That quality is contentment!

Proverbs 23:4-5
Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich.
    Be wise enough to know when to quit.
                   in the blink of an eye wealth disappears,
    for it will sprout wings
    and fly away like an eagle.

This verse teaches us that wealth is not what satisfies. God may give it to you (as Hebrews 13:5 teaches). But the decision is always God’s not ours. For every Christian whom God can trust with wealth, there are 10 whom God know will be ruined by wealth.

Economic systems, be they capitalistic or socialistic or any other “istic” are all broken. Why? Because we are all broken. The solution to poverty is generosity, not socialism. The key to creating generous people is Jesus Christ. Those who are truly followers of His will always be generous to others.


sherie mcmullen
03/19/2010 10:22

"The theft left ripples of pain and brokenness, not the least of which I noted to the victims – when you come to a place devoted to worshipping God, shouldn’t there be an expectation of safety and security? "
Sin is never a private matter. It always has a ripple affect - leaving pain and brokenness in its path. I appreciated your blog entry and pray for God's peace for the students
affected and may this be a faith building experience for them. God will turn evil intentions to good.....and YES we should be able to expect a place of worship to be safe - we should expect Christians, especially those in leadership to be safe - but ya know what? GOD is our safe place. Not people. Not places. sherie

03/24/2010 08:47

Good blog, I think even thou we tend to feel safe inside a church, we must never forget that scripture talks about a fallen world and fallen people, of course in the end God will restore this fallen state but till then, we must not ignore this fact.

Many may be asking why God didnt thunderbolt this smooth operators right on the spot or why would a loving God allow humans get away with this sort of conduct without receiving a taste of Gods wrath. Well that is just not the way Gods justice work.

An english judge named Henry De Bracton living in the 13th century, wrote De Legibus et Consuetudinibus one of the most famous legal documents in English law just before the Carta Magna, here is a brief quote:

"And that he (the King) ought to be UNDER the LAW appears clearly in the analogy of Jesus Christ, whose vice-regent on earth he is, for though many ways were open to Him for His inneffable redemption of the human race, the true mercy of God chose this most powerful way to destroy the devil´s work, he would not use the power of force but the reason of justice."

God in his sheer power could have crushed Satan in his revolt by the use of that sufficient power. But because of God´s character, justice came before the use of power alone. Therefore Christ died that justice, rooted in what God is, would be the solution.

We should be at peace, and trust in the mercy and Justice of the lord, even if WE CANNOT SEE IT as Paul said For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?
Romans 8:24


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