EXPLORING CHURCH AND SOCIETY RELATIONS: SHOULD THE CHURCH GET INVOLVED IN POLITICS AND BUSINESS? (PART FOUR): CHURCH AND BUSINESS

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The focus of this fourth article of the series centered on examining Church and state relations is on a pertinent question. And that question is: “Should the Church as a divine institution engage in business or commercial activities?” Like the question of Church and politics, Christians and conventional wisdom are divided on the question of Church and commercial ventures. Some people are very such that the Church should steer away from business. Conversely others are equally sure that the Church and its members should get into serious, honest business. What does the Bible say about Church and business to help us form an informed understanding? Let us examine below. The third article of this series on Church and politics observed the following points:
With regard to the question of the Church and politics different segments of the Church give different answers. For the sake of clarity and simplicity we will divide the varying views into three categories. The first category refers to those who say the Church should have nothing to do with politics and should concentrate solely on “spiritual” matters of prayer, fasting, winning souls and engaging in humanitarian works. The second category covers those who claim that the Church (the people of God) should not be barred from any areas of human endeavor including business and politics. The third view espouses that the Church can and should take part in politics but not in party politics.
Again we need to be clear about what we mean by Church and politics before evaluating these positions. As noted in the second article the Church is the people of God whose loyalty is to Jesus Christ and all true Christians make up the Church. But sometime we use the word Church in the sense of an institution and its official representatives (the bishops and clergy). For example, the speeches and actions of Archbishop Michael K. Francis represented the official position of the Roman Catholic Church of Liberia. Politics in the general sense is about the society and its citizens and their responsibilities to it and one another as well as the privileges they derive from being members of the society; it is concerned with the management of the whole of life in society. In this broad understanding of politics all Christians should get involved in good or clean politics of every kind but the institutional Church should do its best to maintain neutrality.
In this series we are employing the terms business to mean trade or commercial activity or investing to make profit, and money to mean wealth, talent and other material possession. In getting straight our understanding of Church and business let avoid the extremes of both. There are Churches that act as if God is against money matters and those that act as if the Church is about nothing but making money. Both extremes are half true and unbiblical. The Bible has a lot more to say about money than many of us would believe. One expert on the subject says that the Bible has over 200 references to money. They include finance, tithing, giving, greed, contentment, hard work and stewardship. In fact one’s attitude to money is a good testing ground of faith. Our attitude to wealth reveals a whole lot about who we are. Do we put money first? Are weary of money matters? Like power money in itself is neutral. It can be good or bad depending on who has it. Someone has rightly said that power is no good unless who has it is good. The Bible says, “What good is money in the hands of a fool since he has no desire for wisdom” (Proverbs 17:16)?
Throughout the history of mankind there have been people who have used money to do a lot of good for others and for God’s Kingdom. Conversely there are many who have misused or abused money to hurt others and ultimately themselves. The Bible is not against money but the abuse of it. Jesus says believers should use money to make riches for themselves in heaven (Matthew 6:19; Luke 16:9). In the parable of the talents he teaches the necessity of making the most of the opportunities offered by money and other demands of life (Matthew 24:14-30).
However, the Bible warns us solemnly about the grave dangers that come with money: greed, pride, excess self-importance, dependence on money as opposed to on God, and looking down upon others. In the modern world a lot of our operations need certain amount of money. It is therefore incumbent upon us to lean to earn and use money in the right way. The Church both as an institution and through its individual members should strive to learn about the right understanding and way to make money. And then equally learn how to dispose of it in the manner that pleases and honors the Chief Giver, God. The Church should engage in legitimate business or commerce and through it enhance its work and provide employment for its members and pay them right wages. But the Church must never put money and the comforts and powers it brings first at the expense of the faith requirements of trust, generosity, love of neighbor, justice and care for the needy and afflicted.

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