As for what was sown among the thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. -Matthew 13:22The parable of the sower was read in yesterday's sermon and this phrase jumped out at me: "deceitfulness of riches." As a stand alone verse, it debunks the prosperity gospel that resonates through much of evangelicalism. Even here in Guatemala, I hear people talking about the blessings of the Lord when they refer to physical gifts or riches.
I believe that physical gifts and riches can be a sign of God's blessings in that they are a consequence of charity, or love, but they are not the blessings. The true blessings that God gives are those described as the fruits of the Spirit:
. . . love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. . . Galatians 5:22b-23aThese are signs that the Word mentioned in the parable has taken root and fruits are abounding. When the watching for God's touch on someone's life by watching their finances, we miss the fact that the great saints in history were not wealthy, they never allowed wealth to choke God's Word in their life.
About two years ago, I was seriously contemplating the life of a commune, a life described at the end of Acts 2. The culture I am a part of mocks this belief because of its naïvety and because it is not practical. I see it differently: it is based on faith (not naïvety), it is very practical as it frees up funds for social action. Based on some reading about monastic living that is being explored by Emergent Christians, I hope to revisit the idea very soon.