When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities.
Acts 16:19 (NIV)
I’m writing this morning’s post in the airport. Having wrapped up a week-long business trip I’m headed home. I spent the week serving a client in the financial sector. As I meditate on all that I’ve done this week, the teams I’ve worked with, the managers I’ve mentored, a common theme has been money.
- Agents leaving their jobs to go to another company to make more money.
- A manager who told me she’s turned down multiple job offers, including one that promised to double her pay, because she was happy in her job and her father taught her that more money was a foolish reason to leave a job you loved.
- A young man telling me about his job scrutinizing the flow of money for potential threats.
- A manager struggling to find new hires because most applicants have such poor credit histories from the way they handle their money.
- An agent at a restaurant with his boss, an award he’d received for his exceptional customer service, looks at the menu and then asks how much money he could spend.
All these little moments come back to me as I think about today’s chapter. Until this point in the history of the early Jesus Movement the conflicts (and there has been a lot of conflict) have been theological in nature between the Jewish tribe from which the Jesus movement sprang, the orthodox Jews who viewed the Jesus movement as a threatening heresy, and the explosive growth of non-Jewish believers who had no interest in holding to Jewish traditions.
In yesterday’s post I mentioned that there had been an inflection point, and today’s chapter begins to hint at the differences that are beginning to emerge. Paul and his companion, Silas, are in the town of Philippi sharing the Message of Jesus. A conflict arises in which Paul and Silas are accosted, beaten, threatened, accused, and thrown into the local jail. The conflict wasn’t about theology, however, it was about money.
A young slave girl, possessed by an evil spirit, was a capable and profitable fortune-teller because of the presence of the evil spirit indwelling her. She was also so annoying that Paul commands the spirit to leave the girl in the name of Jesus. The spirit leaves. You’d think that this was a good thing, but not for the slave girl’s owners. No spirit, no fortune-telling. Paul and Silas, these out-of-town street preachers had effectively screwed with the business and cash-flow of an upstanding member of the Philippi Chamber of Commerce.
You want to stir up trouble for yourself? Visit a strange town and mess with a local businessman’s cash-flow. As my week conducting business with my client reminds me this morning it’s always about money.
I sit this morning amidst the hustle and bustle of business travelers scurrying about in a major international airport. I’m reminded that Jesus said more about money than almost anything else. He used stories of money in parables because he knew that everyone could relate. He compared the spiritual desire we should have for the Kingdom of God to the frantic search of a poor woman for her lost savings. And of course, there’s that uncomfortable bit Jesus had to say about money being the number one thing that distracts us from that which is of eternal value.
This week as I sat in mentoring sessions with managers and supervisors, I found it fascinating that most of them came to our sessions with things that they wanted to talk with me about. For one it was the break-up of a long-term relationship, for another it was managing conflict within a personal relationship, and for another it was about a struggle to remain sober. Funny, the things with which they were ultimately concerned were not about business leadership and finance, though we did talk about those things. What they were frantic about was not about money, but about life and relationships and matters of Spirit.
It’s been a good business trip, but now I’m headed…
Home, where my thoughts escapin’
Home, where my music’s playin’
Home, where m’love lies waiting silently for me.
Have a good weekend, my friend.