Before I continue the series "Teach Us Thy Statutes, Thy Law", we need to take a detour; a very important one. Consider this a road trip - like the ones you used to take with your college roommates for Spring Break, traveling to CBS Studios in Los Angeles to join the studio audience of The Price is Right.
Speaking of the Price is Right . . .
I was *this close* to getting on to The Price is Right during my senior year. But Bob Barker called the name of my roommate instead. He won some trips and kayaks.
In this series, "Stewards of Grace", I want us to look at the issue of money and mammon, particularly in the context of religious bodies and Zion. Is it possible to overcome economic inequality?
No, don't leave! Come back -- I brought cookies!
What is the Currency of Heaven?
Picture this: an angel scout is having a bake sale. They've set up a lemonade stand on the corner of Damascus Drive and Amos Blvd. You smell the chocolate (of course there's only dark chocolate in heaven) and wander over.
"Hey Boaz," you say.
"Hey. Want a cookie?"
"Yeah, they look delicious. Do you have any milk?"
Boaz rolls his eyes. "Of course. And honey, if you like to double dip."
"Great, I'll just take a chocolate chip cookie and some milk."
At this point do you:
A. Take out your wallet and pay the angel $1.00; B. Promise to leave a good Yelp review; C. Thank the angel and go on your merry way; D. All of the above; E. None of the above F. All of the above except A
What does a cookie cost in heaven?
In our economic system, you need at least two things:
(1) a price that a willing seller and a willing buyer agree upon ("fair market value"); and
(2) a way to exchange value, like currency.
The "price" of something is based on the relationship between supply and demand.
What is the supply of God?
What are the resources of God?
What are the streets of the celestial kingdom made from?
Gold. (D&C 137:4)
(That's right, the streets of heaven are so impressive they earned themselves an entire verse in scripture.)
Hmm. If you have unlimited supply, what does that do to the economy?
If you want to live in the Big Apple and rent an apartment in Manhattan, it'll cost you about $4,000 a month for 700 sq. feet. That's around the size of a swimming pool. Talk about drowning . . . in debt.
Joseph Smith taught:
All men who are immortal dwell in everlasting burnings.
But who's gonna pay the gas bill for all that heat?
Do angels have to earn an income?
According to Brigham Young, we won't be doing that in the next life:
No one supposes for one moment that in heaven the angels are speculating, that they are building railroads and factories, taking advantage one of another, gathering up the substance there is in heaven to aggrandize themselves.
No Christian believes this; they believe that the inhabitants of heaven live as a family.
(Journal of Discourses 17:117-18)
The Facts of Life
The average cost of raising a child to maturity in the United States is $233,000.00. And that's before they move back into the basement after completing their history degree.
Since I have five children, I will invest around $1.25 million in my kids before they go to college. (There goes my Porsche Spyder.)
Remember the two conflicting commandments that God gave Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden? To multiply and replenish the earth and not eat the fruit?
That must have been nice. Nowadays the conflicting counsel is to multiply and replenish the earth and get out of debt.
Uh, sure. But I admit, what an investment children are!
And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked.
We tell our children they are entitled to food and clothes, but everything else is a privilege. Except the television - that's a member of the family.
Christ is our Father
We do not take money from our children. We do not charge six-year-olds for the meatballs on their spaghetti. We take care of them.
We are children of God. He doesn't need our money. He won't take money from us. We don't need to give our money to God because his gift of grace is free.
(I know, I know, hold your horses. We'll get to tithing eventually.)
But do you know who does need some assistance? Our neighbor, our brothers and sisters, the widow and orphan, even strangers.
When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.
What's a Soul Worth?
Think of ourselves with a price tag: and that is exactly how Satan views us—someone with a price, something to be bought.
And Satan loves to get paid. He has such plans for all that gold and silver.
It is true we have all sinned, and in the process have become second-hand merchandise.
They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
None of us are "new-in-the-box" who have reached the age of accountability.
The wages of sin is death, and Satan comes to collect. God ransoms us from our captor, and the price He paid is proof enough of our worth.
Jesus Christ “gave himself a ransom for all” (1 Tim. 2:6). He actually took our place.
He did not pay the ransom with a stack of unmarked bills in a black briefcase given to our kidnapper in exchange for our freedom.
Christ gave his own life in exchange for ours so we might go free.
Remember when I said the "fair market value" of a thing is what a buyer is willing to pay? Well, Jesus paid the blood price for us.
Our worth is equal to the price he paid - the value that he was willing to exchange for each of us - which was "infinite and eternal" (Alma 34:10).
Can't Buy Me Love
I guess it's true: There are some things money can't buy. For everything else, there's Mastercard.
If an earthly parent is responsible for the care and nurture of their children in every aspect, just imagine the kind of care our Heavenly Father gives to us.
Sometimes it may seem like he isn't there, like a deadbeat dad late on child support, but the reality is the opposite: he is right here, with us, in us. He has never left us.
I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people.
He did. He has.
And what does he ask in return? "Love one another, as I have loved you."