What To Make Of Godless Wealth

We saw an excellent movie this weekend, not one to take your kids to if you’re trying to keep them away from foul language, but one worth considering if you’re open to a reminder about how foul the rat race can be. The film was Equity, directed by Meera Menon, and it delves into the world of investment banking, looking at a handful of characters who live a slick but slippery life.

Today’s Bible reading in Jude reminded me of those characters this morning. Now, not all investment bankers are bad people; some certainly exhibit godly character and do godly work. However, as in any high-powered industry, you’re likely to find a number of people who think little of God, step over others, and go to extremes to get what they want. As Jude puts it:

Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones…These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds, fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever…These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.

-Jude 8, 12, 13, 16

Despite the judgment that the passage suggests, I admit there were moments in the movie when I did think, “It must be nice to order 18-year-old scotch like it’s water, to get driven from place to place, to have high ceilings and original art on the walls.”

However, Jude reminds us that others’ shiny lives shouldn’t fool us into thinking that there’s a better way than following God. In fact, he says this shouldn’t surprise us, overshadow what we have that’s better than wealth, or lessen our desire for others to find it too. He says,

But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

-Jude 17-23

We must learn to look at shiny lives and ask, “Are they really happy, content, and filled with joy?” This is a debatable claim, but I believe that they only can be if they know and abide in their Creator and Savior (a shiny life itself, after all, does not disqualify anyone from this). If they have this true joy and we want it, we need to learn from their faith, not their wealth. On the other hand, if all they have is wealth, we need not envy their wealth. Rather, we must learn to pity their lack of anything else, especially the mercy of God.

After all, we’re not naturally better or smarter or more enlightened; we’re simply those who wait on the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ. We too must have mercy on those who doubt, hoping to snatch them from the fire, while rejecting all trust in wealth, that we might grow and enjoy life-giving trust in the God who raises the dead.

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