Money and Higher Things

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by Jeffrey Wattles, April, 2002

How easy it is for us who recognize the primacy of the spiritual to do less than our full share of material tasks! A selective reading of the life of Jesus may even seem to support this tendency. For example, Jesus did no public fund-raising, leaving that task to Matthew. Ready to rise above financial concerns, we may thrill to the Master's assurance:

“When you wholeheartedly devote yourselves to the proclamation of the gospel of the kingdom, you should not be of doubtful minds concerning the support of yourselves or the families you have forsaken. If you give your lives truly to tire gospel, you shall live by the gospel. If you are only believing disciples, you must earn your own bread and contribute to tire sustenance of all who teach and preach and heal.” (The Urantia Book, p.1823, par.3)

A passage like this can inflame our desire to identify with the apostles. Recall, however, that Jesus, when the twelve were first gathered, sent them forth to earn money and joined them in doing so.

Jesus now asked them how much money they had among tlrem; he also inquired as to what provision had been made for their families. When it developed that they had hardly sufficient funds to maintain themselves for two weeks, he said: “It is not the will of my Father that we begin our work in this way. We will remain here by the sea two weeks and fish or do whatever our hands find to do ...” (p.1544, par.3)

The apostles, moreover, were obliged to provide for themselves once Jesus left them.

“You well remember when I sent you forth without purse or wallet and even advised that you take with you no extra clothes. And you will all recall that you lacked nothing. But now have you come upon troublous times. No longer can you depend upon the good will of the multitudes. Henceforth, he who has a purse, let him take it with him. When you go out into the world to proclaim this gospel, make such provision for your support as seems best. I have come to bring peace, but it will not appear for a time.” (p.1944, par.2)

Urantia Foundation has fallen on times of great need, touching its ability to perform some of its main tasks. It may even be necessary to postpone existing commitments to translations. At this point, each IUA member or Urantia Foundation supporter has a great question to face: Do I really believe in the importance of the Foundation's key tasks?

What are my financial responsibilities? This question may strike fear in our hearts. Given many of our financial situations and family commitments, perhaps we do not like to recall some of the relevant teachings of The Urantia Book:

  1. Melchizedek establishing a system of tithing.
  2. Upon the consummation of the solemn covenant, the reconciliation between Abraham and Melchizedek was complete. Abraham again assumed the civil and militan; leadership of the Salem colony, which at its height carried over one hundred thousand regular tithe payers on the rolls of tire Melchizedek brotherhood. (p.1021, par.4)

  3. Jesus grew up with the practice of tithing.
  4. Mary maintained a dovecote on top of the animal house adjoining the home, and they used the profits from the sale of doves as a special charity fund, which Jesus administered after he deducted the tithe and turned it over to the officer of the Synagogue. (p.1361, par.4)

  5. Jesus, with some qualification, acknowledged tithing as a duty.

    “Woe upon you, scribes and Pharisees and all other hypocrites who make sure that they tithe mint, anise, and cumin and at the same time disregard the weightier matters of the law faith, merctJ, and judgment! Within reason, the one you ought to have done but not to have left the other undone. You are truly blind guides and dumb teachers; you strain out the gnat and swallow the camel.” (p.1908, par.1)

One thing must be made crystal clear. I am not trying to prove that we each have a duty to tithe, let alone tithe to Urantia Foundation. With tithing in mind as a norm, we each need to see what giving is reasonable for us. Moreover, we may do well to distribute our giving in different directions. Nevertheless, we are all beneficiaries of what the Foundation has been doing for so many years. The Trustees, for example, are unpaid, and they work, some of them at times, nearly a forty-hour week. We owe a great deal to them. Moreover, it seems clear that our unseen friends have many projects that they are pursuing through the teamwork coordinated by Urantia Foundation.

A church, with a mix of upper class, middle class, and lower economic class members may have a hard time raising funds, since the very expensive cars seen in the parking lot makes it easy for many to assume that the wealthy few should carry the financial burden. The middle or lower class folks may feel that they shouldn't be expected to do much. At some point, the wealthy may come to feel that the others are benefiting without contributing, therefore abandon any responsibility when it comes time to help pay for all the advantages the church has to offer. Love of neighbor and wholehearted service suffer as a consequence. However, congregations where faith surges dynamically have no trouble paying the bills.

I recall years ago a visit to the former Boulder School for Students of The Urantia Book by Professor David Fraser, a Christian scholar who spent considerable time in East Africa helping church groups to organize effectively. He sat in on a class in which the following passage came up for discussion:

Whatever else may concern the wealthy in the judgment, at least three questions must be answered by all who acquire great wealth, and these questions are:

  1. How much wealth did you accumulate?
  2. How did you get this wealth?
  3. How did you use this wealth? (p.1822, par.5)

After the session I asked David Fraser for his comment; he expressed his observance of how ready these Americans were to assume that they were not wealthy.

Every job that is well done gives strength to others yet to come. Every challenge presents us with the alternatives: shall we be fearful and defeated, or shall we respond with vigor? In every challenge we would all do well [to] feast upon uncertainty, to fatten upon disappointment, to enthuse over apparent defeat, to invigorate in the presence of difficulties, to exhibit indomitable courage in tire face of immensihJ, and to exerdse unconquerable faith when confronted with the challenge of the inexplicable... In liaison with God, nothing--absolutely nothing--is impossible! (p.291, par.3)

“Seek the greater thing, and the lesser will be found therein; ask for the heavenly, and the earthly shall be included,” said Jesus (p.1823, par.3). Sometimes the greater thing is to descend to the humble level of material service. What do you think?

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