Gateway Gazette

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Kingdom Generosity

Every so often as I research and read in preparation for one topic, I stumble across a line, thought or quote that inspires me to write a new sermon – or in this case a blog post. As I was reading Scot McKnight’s Kingdom Conspiracy (great book – please read it!), I found this quote on the topic of how citizens of the Kingdom of God (Christians) should consider handling finances, money, and possessions.

[Jesus] is neither a champion nor an opponent of laissez faire; he neither forbids trade unions, strikes, and lockouts, nor advises them; he was neither socialist nor individualist. Jesus was fined neither of the working nor [of] the rich man as such. He dealt with persons, nor economic classes. The question he would put to a man is not “Are you rich?” “Are you poor?” but “Have you done the will of my Father and loved all men?”

 The quote is from Shailer Mathews, a prominent theologian from the early 20th century, and the quote addresses one of the most complicated, under-discussed, and controversial aspects of Jesus: money. Don’t mis-read me, though; I am not saying that money is not talked about at all. Our culture has money on the brain. We watch stocks, bank accounts, and investments with Superman-laser-eye-like intensity. Bills constantly remind us of money. We have TV channels dedicated to money. Political debates and disagreements often revolve around money like planets around a star. We think about, talk about, complain about, dream about, and maybe even obsess about money. We “keep our mind on our money and our money on our mind.” But not in the context of Jesus and his Kingdom. That’s complicated and uncomfortable. Many don’t know what Jesus taught about money, and many think they do. You might have heard that Jesus only loves the poor and has no tolerance for the rich and wealthy. Or maybe you heard that Jesus was hypocritical by condemning the wealthy while benefiting from their contributions. So let’s clear some things up, and here is where the above quote is so valuable.


Know God and Make God Known

Transitions are essential to our lives as individuals, families, and communities. As individuals we celebrate the ending of periods of our lives with ceremonies as we begin a new era of life. Graduations, birthdays, retirement, and many others are all ways that we value and encourage transitions as life changes. As families we celebrate transitions at weddings, anniversaries, births, and eventually graduations again. As communities we mark transitions at elections, ground breakings, and anniversaries of meaningful dates. All of these moments in life are formative transitions at which point we re-define our life with new parameters and even come to see ourselves differently. For this reason, it is essential that we handle moments of transition with intentionality, care, and significance so that we can better move ourselves from one stage of life to another. 
Gateway is approaching a transitional moment. For 11 (going on 12) years Gateway has been wandering on the wilderness, so to speak, awaiting a more permanent home in the form of a building. Now that home is in sight and we are preparing to move to the corner of Greenfield and Queen Creek in Gilbert — thanks be to God! But just like we intentionally celebrate and mark transitions in our individual lives, we need to prepare ourselves for this transition into a new stage of life as a church. A celebration needs to be planned, decorations need to be hung, classrooms need to be furnished, but most importantly our identity needs to adapt as we prepare to enter a new stage of life. The move to a new location is an opportunity for us to update how we view ourselves, our purpose, and our goals – indeed it is almost imperative that we do. With the new building we will be equipped to serve our community differently, nourish one another more fully, and walk with God in a whole new way. This is not to say that the way we have existed and operated the past 11 years was inadequate, but it is an acknowledgment of impending change that comes with an opportunity to grow and improve. 


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