WAS JESUS REALLY POOR?
The people I’m mainly writing this series for are those who have developed unhealthy spiritual attitudes about money that negatively impacts their lives.
I frequently get a message from someone saying something like this, and this is a direct quote:
“doesn’t it embarrass you to make money here by selling your drawings which are precisely criticizing how some churches and pastors try to make as much money as possible from their followers?”
I’ve received other comments like this one: “Jesus wouldn’t sell his art. He’d give it away. You should too.”
“Charging money for The Lasting Supper? You’re just into this for the money!”
“You’re just another businessman greedy for other people’s money.”
Comments like that used to cripple me for days. They don’t anymore because my mentality about money is getting healthier every day. I’ve worked hard for this, and I’m not going to sacrifice it on anyone’s altar of ignorance. I will no longer buckle under their negative and limiting beliefs about money.
This is why I’m writing about my own spiritual struggle with money in this series, Money is Spiritual. My decades in the church nurtured within me a very unhealthy attitude about money. Money was evil, I’m unspiritual and weak to need it, and I am selfish and greedy to earn it. I never felt this way about others, but I did about myself.
Now that I’ve been out of the ministry for a while, having talked with counsellors and coaches about it, I’m feeling much better and thinking much healthier about money.
There is nothing wrong with selling what I do… my cartoons, art, books, memberships, and coaching. I used to feel guilty about it, but not anymore. The unhealthy projection of others on this no longer touches me because it just doesn’t make sense.
I no longer accept the argument that because Jesus was poor, I have to be poor too. Jesus was also single, and I gladly gave up that option many years ago. He did not despise the rich, although he issued warnings about wealth. In fact, according to the gospels, he befriended the rich and even accepted their support.
- So, lightheartedly, I imagine these people talking to Jesus:
- Why did you accept gold, frankincense and myrrh as birthday presents?
- I can’t believe you received financial support, especially from women!
- You should’ve had your own house instead of relying on other peoples’ homes.
- The Bible says to eat your own bread, but you depended on handouts from others.
- Isn’t a seamless robe a bit extravagant?
- Couldn’t that expensive perfume be given to the poor?
- Why were you always borrowing someone else’s donkey? Get your own!
- You shouldn’t have been friends with rich people.
- Why did you have Judas act as treasurer if you didn’t have or need money?
- A hole in the ground should have sufficed, not a wealthy man’s hewn sepulcher.
- Even though you got the gold from a fish’s mouth, you still paid taxes?
Whether or not you believe there was a historical Jesus or whether it is an elaborate mythology, the story still betrays the fact that even if Jesus didn’t have money in his own pocket, he, his disciples, followers, and his ministry required it. Even though we may agree that he didn’t own much, he certainly depended on those who did. This is, as we’ll discover, normal for mendicants. He took advantage of the wealthy women who supported his ministry, the wealthy people who provided his room and board, and the wealthy donors who financed his ministry from childhood to even his burial.
Was Jesus really poor? Well, yes and no. We may conclude his relationship with money wasn’t complicated or unhealthy.
But, if we use the excuse that we are poor because Jesus was, we cannot escape other issues that we still have to address.
Tomorrow I’m going to talk about how poverty among many of the saints we admire for their simple or even destitute lifestyle required money some way or another.
Do you need help getting over your money hangups so you can get on with your life? Are you a pastor leaving the ministry and are worried about money? Or are you someone who’s going through deep changes in your faith? I facilitate an online community for people like you. But I also coach people one-on-one through these traumatic transitions. Read more about my coaching HERE.