Economics (Justice,Greed,Tax) Religious Right

Do Fancy Houses Bring God Glory?

April 20, 2004

Millard Fuller writes of a large new mansion in Atlanta, with pool, lake, extensive gardens, etc., whose owner said he built it “Because I’m a born-again Christian and I wanted to glorify God.”(1) Fuller then refers to Moses, Isaiah, Amos and Jeremiah — each of whom sometimes spoke strongly in “condemnation of the rich and their big houses.”(2) The idea is that if we want to glorify God, we need to honor what God honors — invest our time, money, and emotional energy in what God is investing in. If God is not much into huge houses, we may have to choose either the morality of the American Christian millionaire from Atlanta, or that of the ancient Hebrew prophets, but not both.

Can we ignore the fact that in the Bible some things obviously get more emphasis than others? Perhaps – if, of course, we give some credit to God in what we do, and believe that Jesus is God’s Son and our Savior. But I don’t think that will do.

I don’t believe Jesus was teasing or just being dramatic when he asked, “Why do you call me “Lord, Lord” and do not do what I say?”(3) I believe He expects us to pay attention to Him. To me it seems obvious that if we want “to glorify” someone who is as smart and holy as Jesus we should start by honoring His personal concerns and getting involved in His personal on-going investments and activities. That means we DO have to listen to Biblical priorities and start restructuring our lives (and estates) accordingly.

That’s what I think — what do you think? Do the big houses glorify God and support His interests, or do they thumb our (their?) noses at Him? Or can we tell?

Footnotes: 1] in his book, The Theology of the Hammer. (Fuller founded Habitat for Humanity.) 2] For example, “Woe to you who add house to house and join field to field, till no space is left and you live alone in the land. . . Surely the great houses will become desolate, the fine mansions left without occupants.” Isaiah 5:8,9. See also Deut 8:11-14, Isaiah 1:17,23, Jeremiah 22:13-16, Ezekiel 34:3,4, Amos 3:15, 5:11-12, Micah 2:2, Luke 16:14,15. 3] Luke 6:46

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