Have you ever wondered what money is, and where it came from? If not, you may want to give it some thought. Most people will quickly say that money does not rule their lives, yet money is the main deciding factor behind much of their lifestyle and decision making processes. It’s simply the way of the world.
As you may know, there are two very distinct kingdoms operating in the world today. One kingdom is the kingdom of mankind, and the other kingdom is the Kingdom of God. One kingdom is real, the other is a counterfeit of the real. One kingdom has a real King (Jesus Christ), the other has a counterfeit king (money).
Although one is real and one is counterfeit, both kings have some things in common. For starters, the nature of both kings is all consuming. It is impossible to serve these kings partially. These kings eventually saturate every aspect of our lives. This is why Jesus said this:
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 both God and money. (Matthew 6:24, NLT)
The Lord’s desire is that we would throughly despise and hate one kingdom, and love and serve the other. Although the Lord’s heart about this is quite clear, mankind’s system always seeks to mix these two kingdoms together in order to give itself legitimacy. After all, it is no accident that ‘In God We trust’ is written on the back of the very currency that is the standard of all the world’s currencies.
With that said, money is a shadow of the real currency. By taking a closer look at money, we can see some beautiful aspects of our heavenly currency (Jesus Christ).
Where Did Money Come From?
Several years ago, I was employed as a corrections officer in a state prison system. The inmates in that prison system were not allowed to have any outside currency inside the prison. Nevertheless, the inmates created their own currency. ‘Little Debbie’ snack cakes were the recognized currency among the inmates. Things like cigarettes and food were priced in ‘debbies’. Little Debbies were useful because they were edible if one became hungry, or they could be stored as they had a lengthy shelf life. It was an eye opening lesson in economics to see an entire prison economy run with ‘Little Debbies’.
The inmates did not have to be taught this system, rather, it developed naturally. This is very similar to the way mankind developed the system of money historically. In the beginning, mankind used tangible commodities for the purpose of bartering and trading. Commodities were things like cattle, salt, tea, seeds, etc… These commodities were always in demand because they were useful items themselves. They could be consumed if needed, or the excesses could be traded for needed items as well. Commodity money had inherit value because of its substance. Commodities were able to be divided up into individual portions as well.
The use of commodities for money had drawbacks, however. It was not always easy to carry around bags of salt or cattle if you were on a long journey. Commodities also could not be stored indefinitely because they had a temporary shelf life. Eventually, societies developed coin or paper money that were assigned a value based on a commodity that currency represented. Many times, a society’s currency was backed by something tangible like Gold or silver. The paper or coin currency represented a real commodity.
Today’s money, for most of the world, is ‘Fiat’ money. In a nutshell, ‘fiat’ money is currency that has a value assigned to it based on a decree of some sort. Today, the value of the majority of the world’s currencies are tied to the U.S. dollar. The U.S. dollar is valued based on a set of parameters set by a board of international bankers called the Federal Reserve Board. Unlike representative money, the value of our ‘fiat’ money is theoretical. It is not based on a tangible commodity. At the end of the day, it is simply pieces of paper and metal.
Earthly Currency & Heavenly Currency… What Are The Similarities?
There are several similarities between the currency of mankind’s kingdom (money), and the currency of God’s kingdom (Christ). Here are a few:
Identity- In both kingdoms, the identity of a person is based on their possession (or access) of currency. Currency identifies us in both kingdoms.
Security- In both kingdoms, our present and future security is tied to our possession of currency.
Access- In both kingdoms, currency gives us access to greater depths of those kingdoms. In mankind’s kingdom for example, if you have currency, you can enjoy and access the finer things that kingdom has to offer. The same is true in God’s kingdom. Christ is the currency that gives us greater access to the depths of His own life (kingdom).
Labor- In both kingdoms, access to the currency involves labor that occupies most of our time. Yes, labor for currency is true even in God’s kingdom; although the nature of the labor is quite different. I’ll explain that difference shortly.
Earthly Currency & Heavenly Currency…What Are The Differences?
Value- Unlike mankind’s current ‘fiat’ currency, our heavenly currency (Christ) is a real, tangible, life sustaining commodity. Christ has ultimate inherit value in Himself. This value does not depreciate or fluctuate over time. Christ, as our heavenly commodity, does not need any representative ‘currency’. Unlike mankind’s institutional religious system, no one person or group can legitimately act as a representative ‘head’, or life, of the church. His headship & life perfectly operate in and through the entire church community. In a true New Testament ekklesia, Christ’s headship and life are tangibly experienced as a real commodity. It is much more than theory or information distribution.
Labor- In mankind’s kingdom, energy depleting labor is required to gain access to currency. In God’s kingdom, however, energy replenishing spiritual rest is the kind of ‘labor’ required to gain access to our heavenly currency. (Hebrews 4:9-11)
Location- In mankind’s kingdom, wealth (money) is located externally. It must be acquired from an external source and brought in. In God’s kingdom, however, wealth (Christ) is located internally (Col. 1:27). In mankind’s kingdom, life begins from a place of poverty and lack. In God’s kingdom, life begins with an infinite supply of wealth (Christ) located within our inner being.
Show Me The Money!
Unfortunately, most believers live life needlessly poor. Many continually and needlessly struggle with issues they have the ability to be free from. Many believers have nothing of substance or life to offer those around them. Instead, they are continually consumed with their own problems and issues. It is poverty of the worst sort.
Many are poor not because they lack wealth, however. In Christ, we have been given an infinite supply of valuable currency (Christ) within our inner beings. Many of us are poor simply because we refuse to see what is right in front of us on a daily, moment by moment basis. There are a variety of reasons for this, but that is another subject entirely.
In the kingdom of God, taking possession of our heavenly currency (Christ) is all about beholding the true light of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 3:18, John 1:4-5,9). If we want to live ‘large’ in the kingdom of God, we have to take possession of our heavenly currency by seeing. Being fiscally ‘disciplined’ in the kingdom of God, however, is all about making the right choices.
When you look at yourself, you have a choice to make. Do you see the old ‘broke’ person that was already put to death on the cross, or do you actively look for the new ‘rich’ person that now exists in Christ?
When you look at your brothers and sisters in Christ, do you look for their fleshly faults, or do you actively look for the breathtaking beauty of Christ that is already dwelling within them?
When you go about your day, are you simply reacting to the physical circumstances around you, or are you actively looking for the work & activity of Christ in your midst?
When you watch sports, movies, or listen to music, are you actively (not passively) listening for the voice of your Lord?
When you gather with other people, do you regularly share your sightings and impressions of Christ?
The way we answer these questions will determine the amount of ‘wealth’ we live by in the kingdom of God. As a result, I’d like to leave you to ponder this question…
How’s your cash flow these days?