Yesterday we were looking at 1 Timothy 6 and Paul’s teaching about spotting false teachers, teaching the truth, and a godly view of money. It’s a challenging passage and as usual now I’ve preached it I’d love to have another go. It was a middle aged sermon carrying a bit too much flab around the middle. But it has provoked some interesting discussion in the hours since.
Someone suggested that what Paul was saying was that we need a balance in how we think of money and stuff. So it’s not evil to have stuff, we’re free to enjoy our stuff and have nice things but there is a balance to be struck between that and living for stuff, in enjoying it and letting it become too important. Let me say some of that is true, but just because bits of it are true it doesn’t make the whole thing true. I think this is reflective of the way many of us think of the Christian life, it’s about having a balance – not too much and not too little. It’s goldilocks theology – not too soft, not too hard but just right, not to hot, not too cold but just right. But that just isn’t biblical.
Paul is being far more radical in 1 Timothy 6 he’s not advocating a balance. “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” He’s saying a balance isn’t good enough, it’s not godly. Disciples are called to something far more radical than balance, we are called to “godliness with contentment”. It’s not about not being too extravagant or too stingy but just right. It’s about finding all we need in Christ and until we do that we won’t have a right attitude to our stuff. It’s about knowing we bring nothing in and take nothing out of this world of our possessions, it’s radically about being content in having food and covering – just the basics. It’s about pursuing Christ and becoming more like him whom we behold because we know we could never be loved or fulfilled or find peace in anything like we can in him and so we trust him for everything – that sounds radical not balanced doesn’t it?
What if the way we so often try to reason discipleship down to balance is really us arguing ourselves into compromise when what Jesus calls us to is something far more radical? Yes that radical may look different for different people, but it won’t be balanced. Read a gospel and we see Jesus that is beautiful, amazing, powerful, majestic, authoritative, but he doesn’t call the disciples to a life of balance but of denying yourself, carrying your cross and following him. We needed a radical salvation, a mind blowing rescue from a judgment and slavery we could do nothing about, and we are freed, redeemed, adopted, resurrected, born again, not to live a life of balance but of radically spirit empowered living where everything is transformed because we have Jesus as our greatest treasure.