Friday 3 August 2018 | Open Table
PROFIT & LOSS
Bring some mains to share, and come with a story to tell in response to the stimulus on the topic of Profit & Loss. This time we’re gathering at Jo Hargreaves’ place, 1 Harvey Close, Brookfield (directions here). Welcome from 7pm, official kick off at 7:30pm. Any questions before the night? Call/txt Dave on 0491138487.
Art /Video | Image above and video below by Artos.
Text | Matthew 6:19-34, from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, especially vv. 19-21 & 24:
Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. … No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.
See also Matthew 16:26 “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?”, and Matthew 10:39 “If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” As for what this looks like in the Apostle Paul’s life, read Philippians 3:1-11, especially vv. 7-8 “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” For helpful commentary and study notes on Php 3:1-11 by Dr. David Nelson, see here.
What do I mean by Profit & Loss? Well, hopefully the stimulus will provoke you to recall and share personal stories of being in plenty and want, wealth and poverty, handling money wisely, resisting the greedy lure of mammon in our post-GFC world [Global Financial Crisis, as poignantly captured by the movie, The Big Short, explained here, here and here], and finding the pearl of great price that puts all other possessions in their place. Where is worth and value truly found in your experience? Is it primarily in financial gain–for instance, would owning a $2 million gold and jewel-encrusted version of a Monopoly board cut it? Does clearing your personal or national debt make the grade? Or does real worth and profit lie elsewhere?
Let these questions prime the pump:
- What are your core values?
- What do we put our confidence/trust in?
- What retains its value and resists depreciation?
- Is there any worth or profit when we breathe our last?
- What on Earth is the ultimate point of all this acquisition (think Luke 12:16-21 and Jesus with the parable of the man convinced we’re gonna’ need a bigger barn)?
Basically, anything that gets at what you value is on the table, exchanging stories of perceived worth, and moments of significant ‘profit’ (whatever that may be) or tragic ‘loss’. Was it really a loss? Or did you perhaps gain something greater, even eternal, from the experience? Like Solomon, perhaps your debit exposed that certain pursuits were merely “chasing after the wind”, ultimately meaningless, when actually that which was of infinite worth was already at hand?
See Dr. David Nelson’s helpful commentary on the Apostle Paul’s ‘Profit and Loss’ in Philippians 3:1-11 here.
We explore this theme of “Income” at great length in Module 11 of the Malyon “Integrating Faith and Work: Principles of Vocational Stewardship” Course. From this course, here are some insightful books, chapters and essays we get into:
- Ben Witherington’s book, Jesus and Money: A Guide for Times of Financial Crisis (2012), excerpt here
- Jeremy Kidwell and Sean Doherty’s edited volume on Theology and Economics: A Christian Vision of the Common Good (2015). You can see the full table of contents and synopsis here. I drew on this in my (Dave B’s) talk “Competing with Purpose” for the 2017 Baptist Care Australia conference exploring a worldview of economic competition, suggesting faithful ways forward as a not-for-profit care organisation operating in a deregulated market space. See here for the essay, and here for the final talk with slides.
- Glen Stassen and David Gushee have a chapter here on Economics, within their excellent book, Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in the Contemporary Context (2017 2nd edition here)
- John Stackhouse’s reflection here on “Money and Theology in North American Evangelicalism” is provocative, exposing why it is such “A Complicated Matter”. It comes from his book, Evangelical Landscapes: Facing Critical Issues of the Day (2002)
- If global corruption gets your goat, then see the Bible Society’s and Paula Gooder’s excellent campaign, ” Thirty Pieces of Silver: An Exploration of Corruption, Bribery, Transparency and Justice in the Christian Scriptures” here. Corruption is, after all, both an internally urgent justice issue, and–indeed–a gospel issue, for the Earth is the Lord’s and we must steward it wisely
- One of the more insightful treatments of the Profit and Loss theme is found in William Cavanaugh’s book, Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire (2008), with significant excerpts here
- Craig Blomberg’s essay is excellent, navigating how as Christians we subscribe to “Neither Capitalism Nor Socialism: A Biblical Theology of Economics” (2012). This essay gets to the heart of his related books, Neither Poverty Nor Riches: A Biblical Theology of Possessions (2000), and Christians in an Age of Wealth: A Biblical Theology of Stewardship (2013)
- If you’re more into the business sphere, then see Scott Rae and Kenman Wong’s chapters here on “Business and the Global Economy” and “Emerging Directions in Business” from their comprehensive book, Business for the Common Good: A Christian Vision for the Marketplace (2011)
- Last, but absolutely not least, do check out the Oikonomia Network’s Economic Wisdom Project, with combined economic principles here and related talks. Of most relevance is Andy Crouch’s talk from the 2018 Karam Forum, “A Pruned Life: Isaiah’s Prosperity Gospel” here. This exposes the massive problems with the “Prosperity Gospel” and yet lays a foundation for communally understood, eternally framed, biblical fruitfulness.