The Common Good

Tiger Woods and Mammon's Scorecard

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Money has become the measure of man, contributing much to our recent sorrows. It may, indeed, be the prime reason. Greed, a sin, leads to ruin. As we try to come to grips with why the wheels came off the car in the Great Recession, one of the least talked about aspect has been how much we judged each other by money's measurement yardstick. Our human worth is tied too much to the bottom line of our finances.

Yet, death reveals this measuring device as fool's gold. What we most remember about the ones who have passed from this life is more about their love and relationships. The best of our lives goes beyond our money it goes to the quality of our relationships and of our honor, and of our integrity. We have forgotten this reality and chase the fairy tale that greed proclaims. Easy money and love of pleasure replaced salvation as the good news we most want to hear. No longer do we look at a human's honor or her word. When have last time you even heard the use of the word honor?

In the whole Tiger Woods story, the subtext has been how much money he has lost. His has diminished in our estimation because he has lost money through lost sponsorships. That he may lose his family registered hardly a blip. How strange that the weakness of Mr. Woods and his lack of integrity is primarily calibrated against his money. The loss of honor, the loss of relationship, and the loss of reputation are thought of as side casualties. The loss of possibly hundreds of millions of dollars is what counts. The fact that he still has more money than most two-thirds world countries doesn't count. What counts is the loss of future revenue. As we have made money the reason for living, we have lost our sense of shame.

Unfortunately, this use of money as a scorecard is not limited to Mr. Woods. Is it any wonder that bankers claim that only by offering outrageous salaries, can they attract "talent"? "Talent" that were the very same ones that created the machinery of the Great Recession. Few have shown any remorse or shame in their conduct leading to the economic debacle, and in fact blame others for the mess they created.

Having pride in a job well done, doing good for the general welfare, being a servant like Jesus have been replaced by the dollar sign. Until we rid our selves of our new Ba'al, making money the point of life, we will continue to cycles of unabashed hedonism followed by economic sorrows. We need a prophet to proclaim to us the true Gospel, the good news of Jesus. Money lacks the power to save us; the love of God through Jesus saves us.

The church, for the most part, has failed in its roll of prophet and at times has, itself, chased profits. If all that matters is how big our churches are and how much money they raise, we miss the Gospel of Jesus. If we pray for God to make us rich monetarily, then who is our God, Jesus or money?

Yesterday, I saw a miracle. A fellow brother in Christ, a faithful man who raised three children and has the love of the church in his heart, has been confined to a wheelchair. During prayers of the people, in the midst of our crying out to God for healing, in the midst of prayers celebrating the birth of babies, he struggled out of his wheelchair and stood before his God. The power of God rested on him. His voice joined the rest of voices crying out for new life. The beauty of a faithful man standing before his God overwhelmed me and pointed to the truth of God. I knew the beauty of the Gospel. We are helpless before God, and no amount of money will help us when we stand before the ultimate reality. We love, therefore we are.

Until we again understand the truth of love, and abandon the love of money, we will miss the beauty of life. I know I am saying nothing new here. It is as old as the cross of Jesus, as old as the foundation of creation. We just have forgotten the truth, blinded by the shiny siren of easy money leading us with cheap promises to the edge of the cliff. Let us back away from the cliff.

portrait-ernesto-tinajero1Ernesto Tinajero is a freelance writer in Spokane, Washington, who earned his master's degree in theology from Fuller Seminary. Visit his blog at beingandfaith.blogspot.com.

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