Why Jesus Is My Hero #6 of 52
Seeing Wealth With Spiritual Eyes
Money, money, money. Money makes the world go round. We measure people by their wealth- by their car or by their phone. If we have money we fear losing it; if we don’t have it we dream of how life would be different if only we could get our hands on some. We live as though our happiness depends upon having money, and preferably lots of it.
So I’ve been challenged recently by some surprising words of the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians. The life of an apostle was hardly a shortcut to wealth – Paul suffered constant opposition, he was shipwrecked, he was beaten and stoned and on several occasions came within an inch of his life. And yet he writes this:
“We are treated as…having nothing, yet possessing everything” (2 Corinthians 6:10)
To look at him, Paul had absolutely nothing – not a penny to his name. Yet with the eyes of faith, Paul recognised that he possessed everything that mattered – spiritually speaking, he was rich beyond his wildest dreams. He had a relationship with God through Jesus Christ – a treasure far more tangible and lasting than any iPad.
Through the book of 2 Corinthians, Paul invites us to look at the world through spiritual eyes. To live by faith and not by sight – seeing things as they really are. We often think of the “spiritual” as being somehow less tangible, more airy fairy. But Paul tells us what nonsense that is – this world is a fleeting fancy in comparison with the eternal realities that Paul invites us to consider.
It’s into this context, then, that Paul speaks this beautiful gospel summary:
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9)
The first thing I noticed when reading this verse the other day was the implicit assumption that without Jesus we are poor. So what does Paul mean by that? Compared to him (and a lot of people in the world today) I’m incredibly wealthy, if he’s just thinking about my bank balance and the quality of my life. Well, with our gospel spectacles on, he’s clearly talking about our spiritual state. Earlier on he talks about those without Christ as being “blind” and “perishing”: the god of this world has blinded our minds, to keep us from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. Naturally we’re cut off from God by our sin – we want nothing to do with him, preferring to invent our own version of God or rejecting him entirely. We’re unable to recognise the good in him, we have no spiritual sight. Without Christ, we are spiritually bankrupt.
By contrast, Paul says that Jesus was rich. Jesus lived in perfect relationship with his Father since all eternity, standing in his presence, unblemished by any hint of sin. Spiritually speaking he had it all.
He Became Poor
The glory of Jesus Christ in this verse is that completely of his free grace he chose not to stand on his rights, but for our sake he gave it all up and became poor. He took on flesh, and lived in poverty – being born in a mangy stable. He didn’t come to a wealthy family, being born the son of an earthly king. Instead, his earthly father was a humble carpenter. But more than that, he became spiritually poor. On the cross he was cut off from God, suffering his wrath in our place. Paul puts it like this:
“For our sake, he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
On the cross, Jesus was spiritually bankrupt in our place. The full extent of God’s wrath was poured out upon him, just as we deserved.
We Can Become Rich
The wonderful truth is that as a result of Jesus’ willingness to go to the cross for us, we can be restored to a right relationship with God. We can “become the righteousness of God” – treated as though we were perfect like Jesus. He became poor so that we through his poverty might become rich. I can enjoy an eternity with God, without deserving it in the least.
Having nothing I possess everything. I am rich beyond my wildest dreams. That’s why Jesus is my hero.