So, when does one go from lower to middle class, and from middle class to upper? I hope one or two of you thought about it when you read the first post in this series. Truth be told, I don’t really care! A lot of people do care, though, and spend a lot of time comparing themselves with others, looking into averages and wondering whether or not they’re getting what they deserve. From the time of the first human king (Genesis 10:8-12) there has always been rich and poor. Jesus says there always will be (John 12:8). Since the start of modern times we’ve been insisting on the existence of the in-between-rich-and-poor class. All this socioeconomic class stuff has become a tool for politicians. Taking advantage of either fear or envy, they play people for fools pitting one class against another to sieze power. Please don’t fall for it!
Do you want to be rich? Be careful! (1Timothy 6:9) Do you really want to be poor, though? It would seem the wisest choice would be to go for the in-between gig. “Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me” (Proverbs 30:8b). However, when we consider what wisdom (Proverbs) wants, it’s not the middle class we desire so much in Western Civilization. It looks like that in-between place could even include what we would call poor—it’s just having what you need. In Biblical terms, middle class means rich; let’s not fool ourselves. All Sociology aside, it’s my opinion the whole discussion of social class is rooted in envy, fear, selfishness, and prejudice, and it goes both ways.
Both rich and poor are guilty of dehumanizing the other “class” to get or keep more of what they want. Rich people ought to share what they have with those less fortunate (1Timothy 6:17-19), but they ought to do it freely, out of love for their fellow humans, not by exaction. Poor people ought to pay their fair share of whatever taxes are essential and rich people ought not to be expected to pay a bigger percentage (Exodus 30:15). Class warfare is demonic! The mature Christian is able to step outside the socioeconomic class system; realizing money is just one more tool to serve God. Jesus calls his disciples to renounce all they have, including money, race, social class, etc., etc., etc. Read your Bible, and read it again. God is trying to tell you that you can’t get life with money. In fact, it may rob you of the very thing you’re seeking.
The apostle Paul wrote, “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need” (Philippians 4:11b-12). To Paul, money, standard of living, and possessions were peripheral matters his faith had enabled him to transcend. He knew how to be Jesus’ follower in riches, poverty, and everything in-between. I wish the same knowledge for you and me.
Money, or rather the love of it (AKA greed), is making America, and most of the “First World Nations” sick and miserable. I don’t advise you to burn it all and hike out to live an ascetic life in a cave somewhere. I advise you, as the Scriptures do, to make serving Jesus as the highest thing of value in your life (Matthew 6:33), and let that “pearl of great price” set the value or lack thereof of all else (Matthew 13:45-46). Don’t envy those richer than you. Don’t fear those poorer than you. Don’t think anybody owes you anything, but never forget you owe your fellow man--rich or poor--love (Romans 13:8).