Answering “Questions Christians Can’t Answer” #37 Wealthy Christians?

This article is a continuation of a series of articles, each of which examines one of the “Top 50 Questions Christians Can’t Answer“.

These questions generally presuppose a very specific Christian orthodoxy which is by no means shared by all Christians everywhere. In the cases that the orthodoxy is this specific, this series attempts to represent Christianity in a much broader sense than the questioner presupposes.

Additionally, the questioner assumes a very mocking tone in the attitude of the questions. This series will state the questions exactly as they were posed in the list, however, it will attempt not to answer with the same attitude in which the questions were asked.

On to number 37 of 50.

Why are there rich Christians?

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37 – The bible states that it is easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. If it is fairly difficult for the rich to go to heaven then why are there wealthy Christians?  Why wouldn’t these rich Christians give up all of their wealth to make it easier for them to enter the kingdom of heaven and help out their fellow man because their God won’t? 

When Christ made this statement his disciples reacted this way:

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Thus, the very next verse answers the question that the previous verse raises. However, perhaps more elaboration is required.
In and of itself, money is not evil. Scripture states that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Paul, who states this in first Timothy points out that the desire to gain more wealth draws one’s focus away from the pursuit of Godliness. For this problem, he recommends that people be content with whatever they have, rather than obsessing on the desire for more. In one passage he states:

…godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.

And in another passage he says:

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. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

As seen here, the difficulty is not in being rich, but rather in desiring riches. Christians are instructed to be content regardless of their financial situation.

The problem of wealth is that it tends to draw the wealthy person’s affections away from God and toward material gains. Of course it is easy to observe that the poor and wretched of the world also tend to be the more religious of the world.

Now asking why a rich Christian doesn’t give away all his money to the poor is a blanket question that would be impossible to answer on an individual level. Perhaps that wealthy Christian really is convicted to give up their wealth, and they simply resist the conviction. This is a sin, certainly, but all Christians sin in one way or another. This hurts their spiritual walk, and may result in some disciplinary action by God, however the misstep of any particular Christian does not mean that God condones the action, but he does forgive it.

On the other hand, it might be that God has used a person’s wealth to convict them of the meaninglessness of material gain. Having acquired so much, they are still so empty. It is only then that they realize their need of something greater than money, and so they find God. In this instance, wealth has become the instrument through which God has saved the person. Such testimonies certainly exist. Actor Stephen Baldwin, for instance, came to Christianity because of the meaninglessness he found in material pursuits. He chronicles his testimony in his book The Unusual Suspect.

Or it might be that God has blessed this particular Christian with wealth because they are able to manage it and invest it wisely, and then use that wealth to bless others. To give away all the wealth at once may be of temporary benefit to those that receive it, but it would be of far more benefit for the person to continue to invest and support others for life, as with many scholarship programs and charitable organizations which use interest on investments rather than donations in order to continue the program.

In the end, the relationship between any particular rich man and God is the business of that man and God alone. The Bible has a number of wealthy individuals who were followers of God, so this is not incompatible with Christian faith and, as Jesus has already explained, nothing is impossible with God.

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