Churches and Money
What Jesus Says about the Love of Money It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. (Matt 19:24)
You cannot serve God and mammon [money/ wealth]. (Matt 6:24; Luke 16:13)
Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided him. And, he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:14–15)
Jesus said, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Matt 19:21)
What Churches Teach and Do Regarding Money
Peter De Rosa showed that by 1330, the official teaching of the Catholic Church was that Jesus and the apostles did not live lives of poverty. This provided the excuse for clergy to live opulent lifestyles from that day forward.
Even though many clergy have enjoyed living opulent lifestyles since 1330, the current pope, Pope Francis, has made significant steps in trying to reverse this trend in the Church. He has lived a more economical lifestyle compared with most of his predecessors. For instance, he lives in a small suite in the Vatican guesthouse instead of the luxurious Apostolic Palace of the Vatican, which is the typical residence of the pope.
Despite his efforts, many reports tell of church leaders living lavish lifestyles. For instance, a German bishop spent $43 million to remodel his luxurious residence, and ten of the top U.S. Catholic Church leaders live in residences worth more than $1 million.
Entry to the Vatican museums and Sistine Chapel costs over 16 euros (about $18 USD). With more than four million visitors per year, the Church receives well over $72 million USD yearly to display their gallery of graven images. I have focused on the Catholic Church here; however, if you research other Christian churches, many also have opulent buildings, retreats, and headquarters, as well as residences for their clergy.
Despite all of this, it should be noted that the clergy/ monastics of some churches and members within some orders of the Catholic Church take a vow of poverty. For instance, Orthodox monks and sisters belonging to the Missionaries of Charity established by Mother Teresa live very economical lifestyles and have dedicated their lives to serving the poorest of the poor.
We should consider Scripture’s warning that loving money and chasing after wealth gets in the way of our relationship with God. We are instructed to put God first in our lives and he will take care of our physical needs.
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (Matt 6:33 NLT).
If God has blessed us with wealth, it is not for us to hoard it or to live extravagantly, but to use wisely to care for our families, widows, orphans, and the poor.
Praise for Beware of Hypocrisy
“An excellent book that I think all Christians should read! I am impressed by the perspective given in this short, but informative book about how the churches have evolved into what they are today.”
About the Author
Robert Waligurski is a senior design engineer at Safran, designing the interiors of Boeing and Airbus aircraft. He has a physics degree from the University of Illinois and three graduate degrees in engineering from the University of Southern California. He has held faculty positions at Chapman University College and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He has spent over twenty years researching the Bible and ancient manuscripts, seeking the truth about God, Jesus, humankind, and reality.