Thursday, June 30, 2022

Healing (Matthew 12:15)

…many followed him, and he healed them all (Matthew 12:15b, English Standard Version). 

Jesus healed them all. Should we be expecting that kind of healing to be happening today? 

Apparently not. Aside from a few exceptions, Jesus is not healing that way today. 

Why is that? Easy if incorrect answers start with we did not pray long enough, hard enough, or with enough “faith.” Or illness is a punishment for sin sent by God. Or illness is evil but sent by God to teach a greater good to the victim or to the victim’s family or friends.

A harder yet truer answer comes from inquiring about God’s relationship to us. In the Old Testament, there are long periods when God is silent: the times of the Judges, the exile in Babylon, the four centuries before the birth of Jesus. We are in such a period now. This point was developed at length by Jacques Ellul in his book, Hope in Time of Abandonment (1972).

Narrow and Wide Gates (Matthew 7:13-23)

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14, English Standard Version). 

Jesus Christ himself is the narrow gate. He himself leads us personally on the difficult path of freedom which is based on truth, expressed through love, and leads to eternal life.

On a Mission (Matthew 10)

Jesus has been traveling from one Galilean village to another. He’s been telling people about the presence of the Kingdom of Heaven, teaching them what this means, and showing them some of its meaning by healing people (Matthew 9:35).

For Jesus, though, this has not been enough. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (v. 36, English Standard Version, here and following). He has seen too many people needing help and not getting it from leaders who would rather exploit than serve them. To broaden his ministry, he sends out his disciples to proclaim the presence of God’s kingdom just as he has been. But he limits their range to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (10:6).

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

True Wisdom? Two Schools of Thought (Matthew 11:25-30)

 “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children” (Matthew 11:25). Jesus speaks of a knowledge of Father revealed only by Jesus to those chosen by him (v. 27) and of things being easier with him as a result (v. 30). To appreciate Christ’s point of view, let us recall the context of these remarks.

First, from prison John the Baptist asks Jesus if he is indeed the one sent by God to baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Matthew 11:2-6, see also Matthew 3:11). Jesus replies that he is bringing healing and wholeness to the blind, lame, leprous, deaf, dead, and poor.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Our Response to God's Question

“Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40, English Standard Version, here and following). How we respond to poor people is how we respond to Jesus himself. In this way the poor serve as God’s constant question to us.

Rich people don’t like the question or God’s insistence in asking it. So the rich hate the poor. The poor use entreaties, but the rich answer roughly (Proverbs 18:23). The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender (Proverbs 22:7). The rich become wealthy at the expense of the poor (James 2:5-7). The poor is disliked even by his neighbor, but the rich has many friends (Proverbs 14:20).

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Weapons of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:10-20)


be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might (Ephesians 6:10, English Standard Version, here and following). Mischievous witness to Jesus Christ takes energy. Alone, we don’t have the necessary strength. Happily, we don’t journey alone. We walk the difficult path of freedom in response, each day, to a gracious invitation from Jesus to join him. With his words of invitation come the power of the Spirit to do them.


Paul tells us to stand against the schemes of the devil (v. 11), withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm (v. 13) and then he immediately repeats, Stand therefore… (v. 14). Through these words of Paul, Jesus today is calling us to stand up, stand out, stand tall, and stand firm with him.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Mutual Subordination (Ephesians 5:21-33)

Jesus Christ leads us on the difficult path of freedom which is based on truth, expressed through love, and leads to eternal life.

This freedom in Christ means both freedom from and freedom for. Jesus sets us free from the causes and consequences of evil. We may look at the six false Olympian gods as causes of evil. They bully, bribe, and deceive us, as irresistibly as possible, to view the world in self-centered terms, to treat others as means to our own ends, to understand leadership as bossiness, and to understand bosses as having greater dignity and being more important than those they boss. 

Jesus calls and enables us to be free for others. He particularly frees us to love others; that is, to commit ourselves to nurturing and protecting all persons with whom we interact.

Jesus Our Shepherd (Psalm 23)

In Psalm 23, David tells us about Jesus and his relationship to us. We might appreciate who Jesus is and what he does for us by contrasting both with the false Olympian gods and what they do to us. 

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Living Words of Truth (John 8:31-32)

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you [live according to] my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32, English Standard Version).

Religion starts with the belief that we must but can set ourselves right with God. To become righteous, we must believe the right things about God and conform (with greater or lesser rigor) to the right moral code. Once right with God, he owes us answers to prayer here and Heaven hereafter. We can also look down on others who are less right. While particular religions vary in details, all agree on the importance of right beliefs and right actions in getting and staying right with God.

Freedom from religion: the gift of righteousness

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Meaning of Life: Freedom! (Luke 4:1-13)

And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him [Jesus] until an opportune time (Luke 4:13). 

Reflecting on the three temptations faced by Jesus in the desert (Luke 4:1-13), we noted that Jesus refused to be man’s God and God’s man by making happiness, power, or even religion his purpose in life. Instead he showed us that freedom is the meaning of God’s life and of ours in response to God.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

New Year's Day

According to the civil calendar, New Year’s Day is always the first day of the month of January. So, according to the civil calendar, 2022 will end on December 31 and New Year’s Day 2023 will fall on January 1.

The church or liturgical calendar is different. According to it, New Year’s Day is always the first Sunday of Advent. Moreover, this first Sunday of Advent always falls on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. This means the date on which a new year starts shifts a little each year. According to the liturgical calendar, New Year’s Day 2022—the first Sunday of Advent—fell on November 28, 2021. New Year’s Day 2023—the next first Sunday of Advent—will fall on November 27, 2022.

The Joy and Peace of Hope (Romans 15:13)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope (Romans 15:13, English Standard Version).

Abba (God the Father) is the god of hope. In relation to Abba, hope is our lively expectation, our joyful confidence, that, through a fresh word from Jesus and by the power of Spirit, Abba will grant us again today all the wisdom, strength, courage, and good cheer we need to respond creatively to whatever evil challenges us.

Abba fills us with all joy and peace in believing. To believe in the one true god is not simply to agree to certain abstract statements about him. It is to live in such a personal relationship with him that we actually get to know him well enough to have complete trust in him and loyalty to him. To say in our hearts, “I believe in you,” is to acknowledge a trust in and loyalty to Abba, and his son Jesus, that is greater than our fear of challenging circumstances.

Wondrous Judgment (1 Cor. 3:11-15)

For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire (1 Corinthians 3:11-15, English Standard Version).

The wondrous world of Jesus

Jesus Christ is the truth who sets us free to love and leads us into fullness of life. Each of the five significant terms in this summary of the Gospel deserves comment.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Wondrous Time (Exodus 20:8)

Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy (Exodus 20:8).

That’s the fourth of the Ten Commandments. It concludes the commandments concerning our relationship with God. The next six concern our relationships with other people. By the way, those commandments start with one concerning our parents.

We rightly interpret any passage from the Bible, including this commandment, by understanding it in its context. For any biblical passage, the final context in which we need to understand is Jesus Christ.

With Jesus, what once were commandments now become invitations. Today Jesus calls us to remember and hallow each Sunday. Even more, the Holy Spirit grants us all the power we need to hear these words of Jesus as invitation and cheerfully do them.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Tolstoy on the Conventional Church

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34, English Standard Version).

Through these words, Jesus reminds us that being witnesses to him means embracing suffering we could otherwise easily avoid. As with Jesus, this suffering may come from both our own government and even from our own conventional churches.

This hostility of the conventional church to Jesus and his contemporary Tufluvian witnesses is both absurd yet understandable. It is absurd because the religious establishment understands itself as the guardian of right witness to Jesus. It is understandable because, in truth, the religious establishment in the West has long since abandoned loyalty to Jesus in favor of loyalty to the six false Olympian gods of power. Consequently, any genuine questioning of this unintentional yet misplaced loyalty can only bring hostility—or repentance.

Happiness through Conformity or Freedom through Suffering? (Mark 8:27-38)

Miraculously freed to discern and affirm our savior

“And he asked them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered him, ‘You are the Christ’ (Mark 8:29, English Standard Version). 

Peter is right. Jesus is the Christ (the Greek word), the Messiah (the Hebrew word), the one chosen by God to save God’s people from all the powers of evil and penalties of sin. 

We might rightly marvel at Peter’s answer. The Twelve, including Peter, have heard all the words and seen all the signs indicating the saving presence of the Kingdom of God in the person of Jesus. Yet Jesus had recently complained of them, “‘Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts heartened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember?’” (8:17b-18, ESV). 

Peter, then, did not discern and affirm the significance of Jesus all by himself. He did it solely by the grace of God; that is, only through a miracle.

Mission to a Reluctant Savior (Mark 7:24-30)

The teaching, healing, and feeding of thousands by Jesus serve as signs that with him the Kingdom of God is present here on Earth. They serve as signs that Jesus indeed is the long-awaited Messiah of Israel; that is, he is the man picked by God to save God’s people from all that troubles them.

Unfortunately, the Pharisees fail to affirm this (Mark 7:1-21). Who are these Pharisees? They are the religious establishment of their day. Today they are the church leaders who act as authorities on what it means to be a good Christian. Today they also represent what we might call the conventional church. This is the church which is Christian in name but Olympian in mind, heart, and spirit. As such it is the church which speaks of Jesus but proves unwilling to hear the fresh words spoken to it by him.

Friday, June 17, 2022

Considering Lilies (Matthew 6:25-34)

“And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, and yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these” (Matthew 6:28-29, English Standard Version).

Jesus tells us it is the Gentiles who fuss over what to eat, drink, and wear. As we might put it now, it is Olympians, especially those devoted to Bacchus, false god of consumption, who place primary value on these things.

Bacchus encourages us to shop till we drop. The bumper sticker claiming, “The one who dies with the most toys wins,” was on a large recreational vehicle driven by one of his loyal—and enthusiastic—followers.

Loving Enemies (Matthew 5:38-42)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil” (Matthew 5:38-39a, English Standard Version).

Oddly enough, the limit of one eye for another was a merciful restraint. Did your brother get into a fight and lose a tooth? According to the Law of Moses, you can’t avenge him by murdering the man who knocked it out.

Jesus now beckons us beyond even the just limits of the Law. He is calling us to full freedom in our relationships to others—even enemies.

Waiting in Hope as Forgiven Sinners (Psalm 130)

As individuals, we have personal burdens, small or large, which have accumulated over a lifetime, short or long. As a society, we also have political, social, economic, technological, religious, and cultural problems which have steadily accumulated since our era of exuberant Olympianity began in 1648. The writer of Psalm 130 invites us to place these personal and historical challenges within the context of Yahweh’s relationship to us and ours with Yahweh. (The following quotes are from the English Standard Version.) 

Marriage: An End in Itself (Mark 10:2-9)

Some weighty religious authorities decide to test Jesus. If a man no longer looks with favor upon his wife, may he divorce her? (Mark 10:2).

As Jesus often does when confronted by others, he asks them what the Bible says. Alluding to Deuteronomy 24:1-4, they say, accurately enough, that Moses does allow a man to divorce his wife. To do so, a man simply needs to write a statement to that effect, give it to his wife, and send her away.

Venus is the goddess of self-centered, what’s-in-it-for-me, love. By her standards, we marry and divorce to our advantage. Do we find some young thing attractive for her beauty, wealth, or connections? We marry her. Is she now ugly, dull, or more irritating than not? Have we simply gotten all we can out of her? We get rid of her. Venus applauds our good sense. So do our weighty religious authorities.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Help Our Unbelief (Mark 9:14-29)

Peter, James, and John have just witnessed a transfigured Jesus speaking with Moses and Elijah. Furthermore, they have just heard God the Father tell them how precious Jesus his son is to him and how important it is that they listen to Jesus.

Now these three disciples with Jesus rejoin the other disciples. All is not well. To begin with, scribes are arguing with disciples (Mark 9:14, 16). We might think of scribes as professors of theology who represent religious authority and enforce established orthodoxy. These weighty authorities are challenging the disciples. A crowd has gathered to enjoy the spectacle.

Instead of Religion We Need Witness

Around 720 BC, the Assyrians swept away the ten northern tribes forming the Kingdom of Israel. Their special relationship with Yahweh having come to an end, they disappeared from history. 

Around 750 BC, Yahweh had attempted one last time to call the people of Israel back to their senses. He did this by sending to them the prophet Amos. Yahweh had Amos speak the words his people Israel needed to hear and obey to remain his people:

The Death and Life of Magical Thinking

In 2003 our Western world was favored with the publication of Edith Grossman’s outstanding English translation of Don Quixote. Terry Castle, in her review of the book (The Atlantic Monthly, Jan./Feb. ’04, pp. 185f.), pointed out that the novel was ground-breaking when it was first published in 1605. It showed Don Quixote and his sidekick Sancho Panza living in a resolutely ordinary world.

Resolutely ordinary. There was nothing magical about it at all. There were no giants, dragons, wizards, sorcerers, enchanters, or spells anywhere. No creatures of mixed species. No hocus-pocus.


Naomi’s husband is dead. Her son, Ruth’s husband, is dead. Bereaved and broken, Naomi is returning to her people Israel. Naomi tells Ruth, bereaved and broken, to return to her people Moab. Ruth refuses to leave Naomi. Naomi insists that Ruth return to her people. In reply, Ruth says:

Playfully Seeking the Truth

In Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books (New York: Random House, 2003; pp. 283-4), author Azar Nafisi explains she once taught English literature at the University of Tehran. After her job there ends, she gathers around her seven of her former students, all women, who meet weekly at her house. For a period of two years, they mature as persons and as a group as they share their love for truth, freedom, life, and one another.

At one point one of these students, Yassi, is placed in an awkward position. Her family wants her to marry. By the standards of her time and place, she already should be. A man and his family express interest in her. During the meeting arranged with him, Yassi is to decide whether to marry him.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Hope (a sonnet)

It’s true: we each know friends who suffer loss—
employment gone, disease, a kick, a death.
We pray to him who suffered on the cross—
help me! save us! renew all with the breath
of life! But Christ is incognito now—
his hidden presence seen alone by hope.
His mischievous disciples he endows
with courage, strength, good cheer with which to cope
and finally to triumph in the face
of all adversity that comes their way.
Each hour, each task, is one we may embrace
and so enlighten all with each new day.
Our witness is to freedom, truth, and life
as joyfully we shine amidst the strife.

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Yahweh: Liberator not Tyrant

We may summarize the Good News of Jesus Christ by saying that Jesus Christ is the truth who sets us free to love and so leads us into fullness of life. In doing so, we make a fairly tight connection between Jesus Christ and truth, freedom, love, and life. Oddly enough, we find this sort of tight connection throughout the Bible.

You've Got to Be Joking!

In his book, The Solitaire Mystery (trans. Sarah Jane Hails; New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1996), Norwegian author Jostein Gaarder creates the following dialogue between father and son as they stand outside the temple of Apollo at Delphi (p. 162):

[Dad] gestured toward all the tourists swarming out of the tour buses far below and crawling like a fat trail of ants up through the temple site.

“If there is one person among all those who regularly experiences the world as something full of adventure and mystery…”

Dream of Constantine: Miracle or Mirage?

Rome, 312 AD: Constantine is about to lead his army against that of Maxentius. The result will determine who rules the western Roman empire.

The night before the battle, Constantine has a dream. In it he is shown a cross. He is then told that, under the sign of the cross, he will win the battle. Upon awakening, Constantine commits his cause to the one who spoke to him in his dream. He has his troops paint a cross on their shields.

The opposing armies collide on the Milvian Bridge in Rome. Maxentius dies and Constantine’s army emerges triumphant. Thereafter Constantine regards Christ as the patron god of the Roman empire and his personal sponsor.

Monday, June 13, 2022

The Scope of Redemption

…we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised (2 Corinthians 5:14-15, English Standard Version).

In biblical days redemption meant being released from slavery because someone else paid the price one owed but could not pay. Redemption meant salvation from slavery through the free, loving, and costly intervention of another.

We can understand why the word redemption has been so closely associated with Jesus. Through his free, loving, and costly death on a cross, he redeemed you and me from our own otherwise unavoidable slavery to wayward powers of evil. 

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Patrick and Providence

Patrick was born around 373 AD and raised along the coast of western Britannia. When he was a teenager, pirates from Ireland came ashore, grabbed him, took him back to Ireland, and sold him into slavery. 

Patrick and others got kidnapped because, shortly after 380, soldiers, civil servants, merchants, and money began to leave Britannia for Rome. Unknown to the Romans living in Britannia at the time, those assets were never to return. With their departure came the irreversible collapse of Roman society. Soon enough that social structure became weak enough to allow opportunistic raiders to steal inhabitants like Patrick for export. After 400, that structure had collapsed to the point that invaders started wholesale looting and then colonizing.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

The Real Patrick

When reading The Confession of Saint Patrick (edited and translated by D. R. Howlett; Liguori, Missouri: Triumph Books, 1996), what emerges is a portrait of a man far more interesting than the popular stories about him. 

Patrick, born in 373, wrote a confession before he died around 463. It is a confession in the sense that in it he acknowledges his sins and weaknesses. It is also a confession in the more important sense of being a witness to Jesus Christ. Patrick opens his twofold confession by writing, “I, Patrick, a sinner, very rustic [ignorant] and least of all the faithful” (45).

Jesus: Dispeller of Death

We rightly celebrate Jesus as our savior because Jesus is the dispeller of death. 

At the beginning of his public ministry, Jesus goes to the synagogue in Capernaum and while there amazes everyone by casting a demon out of a young man (Mark 1:21-8). On another Sabbath at the synagogue, Jesus restores a man’s withered hand. His religious opponents get so angry with him for violating their understanding of God’s will that they immediately leave the synagogue and plot how to murder him (3:1-6).

Later, while Jesus and his disciples are crossing the Sea of Galilee, their little boat is overwhelmed by a sudden storm. The disciples cry to their teacher in distress. With a word, he instantly calms the storm 4:35-41).

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Getting to Know Jesus Better (Mark 4:35-41)

From a boat on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus has been teaching a large crowd all day (Mark 4:1). Nothing surprising about that then or now. Even today there remain Olympians who regard Jesus as a great teacher. When evening comes, he tells his disciples to cross the sea and so they set off (v. 36). 

A “great windstorm” arises and sends waves “breaking into the boat” (v. 37, English Standard Version, here and following). As experienced fishermen, the disciples judge the storm confronting them as overwhelming. Evil’s triumph seems certain.

The disciples turn to Jesus. In their panic, they do not refer to him by name by cry out, “Teacher!” (v. 38). They do so because their fear of death is greater than their knowledge of Jesus.

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

The Poor

Know both material and spiritual poverty

From the point of view of Pluto, the world, and our little heart of darkness, money measures the importance of each person. The rich are very important persons. Those with little money are insignificant. Those with none exist only as statistics.

From a biblical point of view, being poor certainly involves having little or no money. But there is more to it than that. Being poor primarily involves a spirit of humility. The two go together but the spiritual question remains primary.

Friday, June 3, 2022

Moral-code Thinking (Matthew 12:1-14)

It’s the Sabbath. While walking through a field of grain, hungry disciples of Jesus pick some and eat it (Matthew 12:1). For representatives of the religious establishment, this amounts to doing work forbidden on the Sabbath (v. 2). They have a moral code of conduct that they believe expresses the will of God and this violates it. They criticize Jesus for tolerating such immoral behavior. 

Jesus assures them his disciples are no more immoral than David and his men (vs. 3-4) or even the priests who work in the Temple in Jerusalem on the Sabbath (v. 5). He then adds that they misspeak because God desires “mercy and not sacrifice” (Matthew 12:7).

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Woe to the Rich

The Bible doesn’t simply condemn the rich for immoral actions. It condemns the rich for being rich. Surprisingly enough, the biblical witnesses regard being rich as living in rebellion against God. Apart from notable exceptions like Abraham, Solomon, and Job, few people in the Bible are described as both rich and righteous. 

Take God’s word to the prince of Tyre: “‘by your wisdom and your understanding you have made wealth for yourself, and have gathered gold and silver into your treasuries; by your great wisdom in your trade you have increased in wealth’” (Ezekiel 28:4-5a, English Standard Version, here and following). The prince of Tyre acquires wealth through wisdom, understanding, and hard work. No mention is made of dishonesty.

Escaping Pluto through Equanimity

Seeking neither riches nor poverty

“Two things I ask of you [God]; deny them not to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is [Yahweh]?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God” (Proverbs 30:7-9, English Standard Version [ESV]).

The Book of Proverbs contains many passages offering advice on right living. In contrast, this passage is a prayer. In this prayer Agur, son of Jakeh (30:1), recognizes that money is not a moral problem he can master. It is a spiritual problem which God must master for him.

Teaching Our Children about Pluto (3)

Freedom from bondage to Pluto

Our goal in educating our children about money is to save them from being enslaved by Pluto. It is to enable them to draw a clear distinction between loyalty to Jesus and devotion to Pluto.

Symptoms of devotion to Pluto include envying the rich, mocking the poor, being preoccupied with making money, being thrilled to buy things, admiring expensive things and wanting to have them, attributing significance to the clothes, manner, or connections of others, and feeling superior or inferior on the basis of money. Our Olympian culture further lures us into bondage to Pluto with advertising, lotteries, legalized gambling, and sweepstakes.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Teaching Our Children about Pluto (2)

Avoiding a moral-code approach

To best teach our children the ways Pluto uses money to corrupt us, we want to avoid two mistakes. First, we do not want our children to think as we think, and do as we do, simply out of a desire to please us and avoid punishment. Rather than making decisions for them, we need to enable them to make their own increasingly responsible decisions about money. Afterward we may reflect with them about their decision, but not before. Otherwise they might well learn how to conform to a moral code but still have no idea how to relate to the beast (Pluto) without getting bitten.

Teaching Our Children about Pluto (1)

Teaching with increasing depth

As part of their training to be in but not of the world, we want our children to understand Pluto’s corruption of us through money. To achieve this goal, our teaching method will be one of increasing range and depth as our children grow in faith, hope, and love.

To do this, we as parents will include our children in our discussions of money as their maturity allows. We will gradually explain to them who handles the family’s money, whether we have credit cards, how much we owe on the house or car, and why. We will tell our children how much money we make, what we spend it on, how much money each person in the family gets, and why.

Jesus: Our Liberator from Pluto

1. Jesus defeats Pluto

Judas betrayed Jesus to death for thirty pieces of silver. In doing so, Judas showed that Pluto reigned in his little heart of darkness.

But Jesus allowed himself to be sold. He voluntary submitted himself to the law of money, to the rule of Pluto, through Judas. Jesus did so because he identified himself with us so much that he took our place for our sake. Jesus thereby showed that he had no heart of darkness and was animated by a spirit quite different in nature.

Pluto's Marketplace Mentality and Ours

Pluto likes human relationships to be primarily about making money. He seeks to create a marketplace mentality between buyer and seller, employer and employee, landlord and tenant, creditor and debtor, and other economic competitors.

1. Everything may be bought and sold

When we have a marketplace mentality, we look at everything in terms of making a profit for ourselves. We even think of people as objects to be bought and sold. 

Buying and selling people obviously means slavery. Less obviously it means impoverishment. Being impoverished means suffering an alienation akin to slavery. It involves involuntary subjection to the beliefs, values, norms, and whims of those who are wealthier. This alienation not only afflicts the poor while at work or at the welfare office. It worms its way into their Olympian souls, haunts them in the night, and alters their relationships with family and friends.

Symptoms of Devotion to Pluto

Jesus “sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box” (Mark 12:41, English Standard Version). Jesus watched carefully to observe the relationship between people and money. Doing the same might enable us, by God’s grace, to discern the particular symptoms of slavery to Pluto from which we suffer. Seeing those symptoms may enable us, by that same grace, to start setting them gently to one side.

1. Attributing undue importance to money

Jesus thinks of money as a very little thing. To Pluto, and to us when we follow him, money is what really matters.