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.
Since 2016, we’ve been hosting semi-regular Open Table gatherings. So far we’ve explored HOSPITALITY, before getting into the theological virtues of FAITH, HOPE & LOVE. From there, we launched into the transcendentals, TRUTH, GOODNESS & BEAUTY. More recently, we’ve taken a topical direction, delving into the RISK of incarnation at Christmas time, our experience of violence and reconciliation through the lens of WAR & PEACE, themes of identity, place, travel and baggage via MIGRATION & STABILITY, and what we truly value in terms of PROFIT & LOSS. Paul’s advice has led the way:
Whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just,
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable,
if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things (Philippians 4:8).
All welcome from 7:00pm onwards, typically at Nik & Dave’s house @ 152 Tanderra Way, Karana Downs (directions here). Officially we’ll kick off at 7:30pm, and be done around 9:30pm. It’s pretty informal, but coming on time helps the group hang together.
XP is obviously Christian! That said, it’s not “religious” in the sense that you can only come if you’re a churchy kind of person.
This night in particular is a community event.
Everyone has a story. And God’s story interweaves with our own, often in ways we can’t even see.
It takes a face-to-face encounter with those who are different from us to draw it out.
So, this night is open to everyone. Bring a friend.
There is no r.s.v.p. That said, it’s a massive help if you bring something small to contribute to the meal. Bring something for a main dish that you would enjoy eating, and if you’re feeling lavish, bring a bottle too! We’ll provide dessert and some extra drinks. And if you forget to grab something, don’t let that stop you. Come anyway!
So, what exactly is OPEN TABLE?
Imagine communion as a true meal, sharing stories around a central theme, and seeing how our stories tie into God’s story of mission to redeem (and reconnect) a broken world.
The themes are as deep and varied as life itself: love, hate, work, pain, hope, reconciliation, creativity, evil, wisdom, healing, purpose, violence, confusion, destiny …
Whatever the theme for that week sparks in you is fair game. You can even bring along a song, a piece of art, a movie clip, a photo, an artifact … bring whatever helps you tell a scene from your personal story.
We will typically post one passage from the Bible alongside that theme. No preaching, but picture an open dialogue about how this story resonates with your own. Perhaps together we’ll see how in God we really do live, move, and have our being.
Feel free to post your ideas for themes and passages also
… we’re keen for this to become an authentic/real community.
Looking forward to hosting you in our house, as strangers become friends.