December 14, 2016

Batman and the Pope

In July of 2016 I was invited to meet Pope Francis with a small group of pastors at the Vatican in Rome. I was rocked by the invitation; come on…how many people in the world get to have a sit down meeting with the Pope of the Catholic Church? I was excited and a little nervous. I spent most of the next morning packing; but I couldn’t decide what to wear. I tried on all six of my suits, fifteen dress shirts and twenty-five ties. I finally narrowed my selection down to two options. I packed them carefully and the next day I headed to the airport. On the way to the Vatican my luggage was lost and after all of my humming and hawing over what to wear here I was stuck with only some ragged jeans and my Batman shirt. Yikes!

I arrived at my hotel at 12:30 am and laid my head on my pillow at 1:00 am in the morning. I was exhausted but my mind insisted on playing movies of meeting the Pope. I imagined myself in my old, ragged Batman shirt and tattered jeans, in the midst of pastors, dressed in three-piece suits, and Pope Francis in his royal robes. “What would The Pope think of my humble attire?” I mused. “Maybe he would view my unpretentious situation and conclude that a homeless person somehow slipped into the Vatican.”

The problem was that my (then) present situation didn’t actually represent my true economic reality. The fact is, I am not destitute. I own seven expensive suits. Furthermore, I’m not homeless; I actually have a big, beautiful house nestled on three acres of oak trees, in a gated community. Simply put, I may have looked poor and homeless but Rome isn’t my home – Redding, California is! Therefore, measuring my affluence by observing my Roman situation would lead you to the wrong conclusion about my monetary condition.

Jesus Was No Beggar

Much like my Roman condition, with my Batman shirt and ragged jeans; if you make the mistake of judging Jesus’s net worth by His humble earthly condition, you will misjudge His prosperity and undermine His mission. The apostle Paul put it like this, “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 through His poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9) Wait! What did he say? Jesus was rich BUT then He became poor SO, (the reason He became poor), we might become rich! That’s incredible!

Jesus’s home is heaven. Now I am not sure where heaven is exactly but the biblical description of it sounds pretty incredible. For instance, the heavenly Jerusalem has streets of pure gold, like transparent glass, with twelve pearl gates; each one of the gates is a single pearl, and the material of the wall is jasper. Jesus left His heavenly home and was born in a manger. It would have smelled like manure, been infested with flies, and would’ve been filled with poop. When Our Lord’s earthly birth is contrasted to His heavenly home the reality of Jesus’s humble state emerges with certain clarity.

Prosperity from the Inside Out

I want to point out again that Jesus became poor for a reason. His celestial mission was to make us wealthy. He didn’t become poor so He could demonstrate the power of poverty; quite the contrary. Actually, He became poor to demonstrate the process to prosperity. If heaven is God’s goal for us than wealth must be a piece of our prize! Although Jesus left heaven, heaven never left Jesus because Kingdom prosperity always begins from the inside out. Therefore, you can put Jesus in a manger but you can’t put a manger in Jesus. Wealth, glory, and power seeped out of His pores.

So what does this mean for us? Our prosperity must first be an inside job before it can be an outside reality. Let me be clear: I think we should all be wealthy, but we shouldn’t all be rich. Wealth and riches are not the same thing. We’ll have further discussions on this later. I’m sure many people are uncomfortable with the idea of being wealthy, but I want to challenge you and your thinking. If wealth is a piece of our prize in heaven, then it can certainly be a part of our reality on earth. Is this something that’s difficult for you to align yourself with? Do you have goals for wealth and prosperity in your life? I’d love to hear what you’re thinking in the comments below!

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