Out of his twelve disciples, Jesus decided to make the thief, Judas, his “Minister of Finance.”
If you were appointed as Minister of Finance in Buhari’s new cabinet, would you steal? It all depends what kingdom you belong to. If you belong to the kingdom of this world, you would be a fool not to steal. No matter the anti-corruption noises being made right now, you would know you cannot be in that post forever. In fact, you can be removed at a moment’s notice.
Therefore, you need to seize the day and siphon as much money as you can as soon as you can. The only imperative today is that you will need to steal with a lot more finesse than has been exhibited by past looters. You have to make sure you cover your tracks very well. In any case, the possibility of capture and the threat of imprisonment has yet to discourage daylight robbery in the kingdoms of men.
However, put Christians who claim they belong to the kingdom of God in the same office, and what do you find? They would also steal. But why would Christians who profess the righteousness of God also do that? Jesus provides a cryptic answer. He says Christians would steal because, in general, we are not as smart as unbelievers: “The children of this world are, in their own generation, wiser than the children of the light.” (Luke 16:8).
In short, unbelievers steal because they are smart: while Christians steal because we are foolish. Unbelievers are wise because, by pocketing government funds, they prepare for their future, which is on earth. However, Christians are foolish because, by stealing, we fail to prepare for our future, which is not on earth but in heaven.
Unbelievers only have this world; heaven is not their portion. Therefore, they are wise to steal and thereby secure their future in this world. However, this world does not belong to believers. We are only strangers and pilgrims here. Since heaven is our future home, it is foolish to disqualify ourselves from it by seeking to secure our past in this world through thievery.
Therefore, Jesus warns: “Whoever desires to save his life shall lose it, and whoever desires to lose his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matthew 16:25). Paul also counsels: “Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:2-3).
Purpose that is purposed
Why would God allow a child of light to become a Minister of Finance in a world of darkness? Why would God “promote” a member of his kingdom with a high-ranking job in the kingdom of this world? The answer lies in the understanding of kingdom dynamics.
There is a reason for everything that happens in the life of a man. There is a reason for every situation, for every affliction, for every triumph, and for every failure. There is a reason because God leaves nothing to chance.
Why were Christians born and why was it necessary for us to be born (again) a second time spiritually? Was it so we can prosper materially in this world and make a name for ourselves? Was it so we can make a lot of money, build a lot of houses, and reach the pinnacle of our careers? Or were we born again to actualise the purpose of God in your lives, even if this involves suffering shame for Christ’s name?
The Father’s business
Jesus went with his parents on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. On their way back, they suddenly discovered he was not with them. They searched for him frantically for three days and finally found him in the temple discussing with the teachers of the law. When they told him how distressed they had been looking everywhere for him, the twelve-year old Jesus wondered why. “Didn’t you know,” he asked, “that I must be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49).
What precisely is the Father’s business, and to what extent have we been going about it? Jesus says to his disciples: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.” (John 15:16).
We were chosen for a purpose. Peter spells out that purpose: “You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, (God’s) own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” (1 Peter 2:9).
How does a believer proclaim the praises of God? We do this by who we are and not by what we have. If you believe it is by what you have, then if you become a minister in Buhari’s government you would be determined to acquire as much wealth as possible. But if you believe it is by who you are, then you would use your position to serve others and would be a pillar of integrity.
Jesus says one of the reasons why believers are still in the world is to determine if we can be entrusted with the true riches: “If you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own? No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Luke 16:12-13).
Thus, out of his twelve disciples, Jesus decided to make the thief, Judas, his “Minister of Finance.” Judas must have thought Jesus is a fool, no matter how spiritual he might be. Therefore, he stole regularly from the common purse. So doing, he failed a simple integrity test. The man who steals is disqualified from the true riches of God’s kingdom and condemned to the counterfeit riches of this world. True riches endure: counterfeit riches ultimately grow wings and fly away.
Jesus says money does not belong to the believer: it belongs to someone else. What then belongs to the believer? God himself! As God proclaimed concerning the priests and the Levites of the Old Testament: “It shall be, in regard to their inheritance, that I am their inheritance. You shall give them no possession in Israel, for I am their possession.” (Ezekiel 44:28).
Believers are not called to showcase the glories of this world. We are called to show forth the glories of God’s kingdom, which are chronically absent in the world. While the world is rich in money, it is poor in mercy. The world is lacking in righteousness, in justice and in equity. It is deficient in love, joy and peace. The world is starved of the ornaments of the kingdom of God.
Look around you. There are people in your neighbourhood in need of kindness. There are people next door in need of compassion. People need truth. They need the goodness of God. Jesus says: “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in Heaven.” (Matthew 5:16).