FAQs

Big Questions
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Finance

Q I heard [national Christian financial counselor] Dave Ramsey say, “If you live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.” Is “living like no one else” really an appropriate goal for Christians?

A I have great respect for Dave Ramsey and know that God has used him to bless and challenge thousands of people—myself included.

But I also believe that the statement you quoted can leave people with an incomplete (and even inaccurate) picture of what God calls us to do with our money.

It is true that the Bible calls us to “live like no one else.” One of the many examples is found in Romans 12:2, where we are called to “not conform any longer to the pattern of the world.”

The 18th-century Reformer John Wesley noted that when people become transformed by Christ, they become more diligent in their work and more frugal with their money. The good news, Wesley pointed out, is that this process often leads to a growing measure of prosperity. The bad news, he said, is that prosperity often causes believers to become self-sufficient and self-centered.

So what do we do if God uses our “living like no one else” to bless us financially? The answer is found in 2 Corinthians 9:11: “You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion.”

God offers us an amazing journey of financial freedom when we “live like no one else.” And as we walk by faith along this path, may our hearts become more in tune with God’s heart—for his glory and the eternal joy of others.

—Mike Buwalda

Mike Buwalda (mike@barnabasfoundation.com) is a stewardship consultant for Barnabas Foundation.  

Church/Bible

Q May a pastor tell a baptized 18-year-old who has been a member of the church all his life and has been attending catechism classes that he may not make profession of faith unless he’s sure he’s going to be a member of this congregation?

A Your question seems to refer to a specific case in your congregation. I don’t know the dynamics involved in that case. All I can do is indicate what is generally appropriate.

First, the elders are responsible for the spiritual nurture of the congregation, and any regulations concerning profession of faith are to be made by them, not by the pastor alone.

Second, persons currently involved in the congregation should be able to profess their faith in the congregation that nurtured them even if they will be leaving shortly for any number of reasons—going away to school, getting married and attending the spouse’s church, etc.

Persons who are already worshiping in another congregation should be encouraged to make their profession in that congregation even though they have emotional and/or family ties to their “home” congregation. This gives them an opportunity to share their spiritual journey with their current faith community. It also gives the members of their current congregation an opportunity to better know and incorporate them and to say with integrity the words spoken by the congregation at this time, “We promise you our love, encouragement, and prayers.”

—George Vander Weit

George Vander Weit is a retired pastor in the Christian Reformed Church.Culture

Q Should churches get involved in politics? Our adult education class discusses political issues, and during the last campaign it seemed there was more advocacy in that class than there should be in a church.

A You raise a tough question. Under law, churches operate as nonprofits and are barred from advocating political positions. If they do, they run the risk of losing their nonprofit status. On the other hand, churches offer insight into how faith and theology affect our everyday lives.

It seems to me that it is completely appropriate for churches to encourage people to fulfill their duties as citizens. So encouraging people to vote, allowing the use of their facilities as voting stations, and holding bipartisan forums fit that responsibility

Where churches can go wrong is when sermons and educational opportunities align with any one given political party or point of view.

As Reformed Christians, we have to allow that God’s grace works throughout the world, as does total depravity. Churches need to honor the complexity of life and the mysteries of God’s movements in the world. They should also presume the good will and good character of people who hold different points of view.

—Helen Sterk

Dr. Helen Sterk is chair of communication arts and sciences at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Mich.

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