Bank Account of the Living Dead


When people talk about original sin, they love to point to toddlers committing two obvious sins: lying and screaming “MINE!” all the time. It’s so desperate and obvious it makes us laugh.

Nobody laughs when adults do it, though.

Which is why I am bothered by the sudden eruption of Christians, most of them political conservatives, who are screaming “MINE!” when they don’t like the idea of the government redistributing wealth. It’s not that I don’t blame them. Is this what it's all about?I’m very sympathetic. I don’t like the government taking my money and giving it to someone else, either.

Did you notice the word my in that last sentence? Think about that for a moment. Then think about this: It’s a very short trip from complaining about giving money to the government so the government can give it to other people who may need it to complaining about giving money to the Lord so the Church can give it to other people who may need it.

The Bible says this:

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
—Colossians 3:3

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
—Galatians 2:20

Part of what made the early Church so radical to the Jews is that they got the concept of being dead. They understood it legally and spiritually. Someone declared legally dead could no longer be said to own anything. And spiritually, they understood it based on what John the Baptist initiated and Jesus advocated as the way of fulfilling all righteousness:

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
—Romans 6:3-4

When you and I went down in that water, what came up from it was new. Whatever we were died. And what emerged from that water had no claims on the old life and the things of the world, for that new person was dead to those things, a new life now joined to Christ in His death.

This is why baptism has seen its meaning diminish in most churches today: We don’t stress that the person who comes out of that water is not the person who went in. We don’t talk about the burial. We don’t mention the old life that was abandoned for a new one that has us living as if all you and I own now is Christ, for we are in Him, and all we have is Him.

Those in the early Church understood the full meaning, though, which is why they could say what they did:

Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.
—Acts 4:32

Many will reply that I’m opposing capitalism. That’s the usual retort. But the truth is that I haven’t seen genuine capitalism in a long time. Genuine capitalism is a fantastic economic system in the hands of God-fearing people. In  the hands of such godly people it works beautifully on a local scale for they balance the health of the local community against any race to the price bottom by any one controlling interest.

But the truth is that capitalism today is run by people who do not fear God. Such godless people  long ago abandoned the health of the local economy in favor of globalism, where all that matters is the lowest possible price—which means that someone inevitably suffers for that price because community loses all meaning when the entire planet is involved.

Plenty of Christians make excuses for the condition of capitalism today. If I read my Bible correctly, though, I can’t see that God was ever keen on excuses.

Capitalism, socialism, communism—all have their evils. But the one system I never hear enough about, the one that is 100 percent evil-free is God’s system, the Kingdom (or call it Kingdomism, if you like).

The economy of God’s Kingdom is made up of people who died to self and gave up the childish notion of “MINE!” These people are puzzled by arguments in favor of 10 percent, because each of them realizes that all that is around them is in play at all times for the Lord and His Kingdom. Their lives and everything in them are 100 percent purchased and owned by Jesus.

We live in what some have deemed a “praise & worship generation.” I would argue that few of us understand what genuine worship is, especially in the context of our death and burial in Christ.

This classic verse says it all:

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
—Romans 12:1

We are the sacrifice. And just a little study shows us from the Scriptures that what is sacrificed is never intended to get up from the altar, dust itself off, and go on as if nothing happened. No, the outcome for the sacrifice is death. And it isn’t a 10 percent death or even a generous 15 percent one, but 100 percent.

But that is my worship: 100 percent of all I am and anything connected to me. That is the life that fully celebrates Jesus and worships Him in Spirit and in truth.

Do we understand how far we are from the ways of the Kingdom? I know I do. And I understand it more each day. I want to crawl off the altar of sacrifice. I don’t want to be dead. I like “MINE!” too much, too.

Yet as each day passes, I enjoy that kind of compromised, half-dead, zombie-like existence less and less. Now, I can see what Jesus intended. And it is so much more than any of us can comprehend.

I want to be fully dead. It’s the only way to truly live.



I call it the Green Pepper Price Index (GPPI).

Just two and a half years ago, I could buy a green pepper in my local grocery store for $0.59. Sometimes the price even went down to $0.49. This last Saturday, that same green pepper was $1.29.

People can’t seem to connect the rising prices of food in their grocery stores with the cost of fuel to truck it there. They can’t see that when a big farming operation goes through as much as 2,500 gallons of diesel a day, $4.59 a gallon diesel fuel (up from just $1.29/gal. in my area a few summers ago) drives up the cost of that green pepper.

And why are gas prices that high? Oil speculation. When you have to cover the costs of bid-up oil futures as one rich multi-millionaire after another plays the speculation game, you’ve got to raise prices. When a billionaire like Mark Cuban, owner of The Dallas Mavericks, says that rich guys are squeezing the little guys like us in their no-holds-barred gambling in the oil speculation market—and that it has to stop for the sake of our country (though the scoundrels behind this show no sign of easing up)—you know we live in unprecedented, self-centered times.

Every study out there shows the middle class losing ground. (Here’s an eye-opening analysis.) Meanwhile, the top 2 percent of wage earners in this country have never been richer. flytrap.jpgThe CEO of UnitedHealthcare made $1.2 billion in compensation in 2006. That’s billion. Yeah, with a b.

It’s not a word we use too often anymore, avarice. The continued dumbing-down of our vocabulary excludes it in favor of the more common greed. But avarice is a more compelling word, with a ferocity that greed lacks. Greed is snatching a slice more pizza than you deserve. Avarice is buying the pizzeria and forcing it to make pizzas for no one else but you. Avarice doesn’t merely want one more; it wants to change the structure of reality at a deeper level to feed that greed.

The problem with the kind of avarice I’ve highlighted so far is that it’s easy to spot. Some CEO runs his company into the ground and walks away with 9-digits of golden parachute exit money…well, only the CEO and his board of directors consider that a rational response.

But avarice goes much deeper, affecting the common man, too. Sometimes, we even see it in our churches.

The kind of avarice I’m talking about finds it’s revealing in these verses:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me —practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
—Philippians 4:8-9

I believe that at its core, avarice is an inability to consider the inherent good in what God has created or done for us and be satisfied with it.

Avarice cannot think on what is good or pure because they aren’t good or pure enough, at least as the person stricken by avarice thinks. Such a person sees a beautiful, verdant forest filled with the Lord’s good gifts to us and thinks, If we cut down all the trees, we could put in a strip mall. That shrunken soul finds no excellence in the forest. Such a mind is warped to only see what it believes is good, whether that “good” has any grounding in God’s good or not. Such a mind would pave Paradise and put up a parking lot.

The avarice of the average man and woman in America (a “Christian nation,” mind you) has led our country into a dark place. To that average person, no good exists save that it provide him or her an immediate, self-centered gratification. This even extends to our American heritage. Today’s Americans value freedom so little that we are willing to give it away for perceived personal gain, even if the wholesale barter of American guiding principles  destroys the country in the process. We have become people adrift on a tiny ice flow in the middle of a vast ocean, looking for ways to start a fire because “it’s a little chilly on this ice.”

And what about our churches?

Avarice in our churches means that we will moan and whine about our pet issue until it splits the church in two. No matter that the church goes belly up and fellow believers are hurt. No, it’s better to “stand up for the truth” (even if that truth isn’t) than to do a little self-discovery and realize the world doesn’t revolve around us and our pet issue. Better that we leave our sacrifice and be reconciled with our brother and sister in Christ before we might offer it.

Avarice in our churches precludes teachability. When our hearts swell with avarice, no room is left to grow in grace.

Avarice in our churches means that we won’t be satisfied with the speed at which God is doing good things in our midst, so we’ll find some man-made way to stoke that fire, ultimately burning everything up, including the good we started out with.

Avarice in our supposedly Christ-centered lives will force us to distrust the Faith of our Fathers and explore every newfangled Christian fad that comes down the pike, even if such fads derail our journey with Christ. That inability to appreciate the good for its inherent goodness only wrecks our faith as we seek to add to what is already perfect in Christ.

Avarice cannot meditate on the good because it perpetually searches for something better, even if that supposed better mauls everyone it touches. Woe to us if we are on the receiving end of that mauling! We’ll find that our “better” turns to devour us.

God, how we need to purge our lives of avarice!

In My Little Kingdom (and Yours)


In my little kingdom, I ride my little pony over my little rainbow. Every day is my day, every event my event.

In my little kingdom, we build on a foundation that is me. We do this because only I am worthy.

In my little kingdom, I never have to sacrifice, though you do. You’re a peasant, remember, but I’m a king.

In my little kingdom, the easiest way to make things happen is to throw a tantrum. My castle in my little kingdom. Isn't it fab?Because nothing beats a spectacle when attempting to prove one’s royal lineage.

In my little kingdom, the littleness of it all means there’s just enough room for me. Let’s not even consider making room for those people.

In my little kingdom, nothing is more important than making me feel good about myself. Of course, this means that I will have to make other people feel bad about themselves. (That’s just the way it works. Sorry.)

In my little kingdom, we do what I want and not what you want. In fact, in my little kingdom, as far as I’m concerned, there is no you.

In my little kingdom, I’ve heard peasants talk of being “the bigger person.” I have no idea what that means, though.

And sometimes, the best place for me to pull out my little kingdom for all to see is when I interact with other people. Funny thing is, when I’m with others, it seems like each person has his own little kingdom. Except those other little kingdoms don’t matter as much as mine.

I once heard of a place where another Kingdom reigned.

In that other Kingdom, everyone is a servant, yet no one complains. In fact, people serve gratefully.

In that other Kingdom, people aren’t peasants, but children of the King. And the children treat each other as if each is the most important person in the world.

In that other Kingdom, no room for little kingdoms exists. That’s not because the Kingdom is too small, but because it’s too large.

In that other Kingdom, in times of lack, all lack together, and in times of plenty, all enjoy plenty together. The children even believe that giving their blessings away is better than keeping them all to themselves.

In that other Kingdom, it isn’t about living, but about dying. And no one would have it any other way.

In that other Kingdom, when one rejoices, all rejoice. Also, as unbelievable as it may sound, when one hurts, all hurt.

In that other Kingdom, all can become children of the King. Even those people.

In that other Kingdom, helping others become part of the Kingdom drives the children. Some even die so that others might come to live in the Kingdom.

In that other Kingdom, the foundation is the King. And He is love.

In that other Kingdom, one glimpses true meaning. Some even say that eternal life is found in the King of that Kingdom and in surrendering all to Him.


Sometimes, when all is quiet and I have to be alone with myself, I think about that other Kingdom and mine doesn’t seem so wonderful anymore.