Kairos Journal has a good little post on the struggle of the early church with its perspective on riches. The struggle was not "plant a seed and God will give you financial prosperity" - that schmack is an western Christian invention (though my guess is that view has a loooong history - it seems to have existed in Job's time). No, the early church struggled more with texts which had harsh things to say to the wealthy. The essay focuses on passages from a very popular early Christian book known as the Shepherd of Hermas.
The book recounts a vision in which round stones are being cast out of a building. It reads:
5:5 "But the white and round stones, which did not fit into the building, who are they, lady?" She answered and said to me, "How long art thou foolish and stupid, and enquirest everything, and understandest nothing? These are they that have faith, but have also riches of this world. When tribulation cometh, they deny their Lord by reason of their riches and their business affairs."
Do you think that would shake up many American church goers? Probably not. But in the soil of the early church there was a struggle with the role of wealth in light of the teaching of Jesus. Such texts as Luke 1:53, 4:18, 16:14; and Mark 10:25 which Jesus says: It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God, gave the wealthy great pause. Into this environment a man known as Clement of Alexandria wrote concerning Christianity and wealth. The Kairos Journal article focuses on how he wrestles with the tension. It is an interesting little post which ends with the following:
In the Western world where even the “poor” have discretionary time and income, the “rich” are legion and the fact remains: those who own a great deal will have much to love that is not Christ. It is too easy to hide behind the assumption that the “wealthy” are those in the next tax bracket. Regardless of the size of one’s bank account, each must ask if an “innate and living” lust for money—and the benefits it provides—is thriving within. If it is, these round stones will need some trimming
A great examination for all of us. Trim our round stones Lord, and let us see our wealth as a means of blessing for others.