Ask Father Paul 06/15/11
Answers to your questions about life, religion and the Bible
Pastors get some of the most interesting questions from people they meet and people in their congregations. Here are a few that I have gotten over the years and via email for this column.
Dear Father Paul: I have made a good deal of money over the years and give generously to charities and other community needs. Now, the president and his party want to increase my taxes, because I am “rich.” A close (Christian) friend quoted a verse from the Bible where Jesus is to have said ... “to whom much is given, much will be required.” Is that in the Bible? — No Name Please.
Dear No Name: It is indeed in the Bible. Jesus says these words in Luke, Chapter 12, verse 48, but I don’t think he was necessarily talking about the “rich” paying a higher percent of their income in taxes, although I guess it is possible.
Jesus’ statement should really be considered in the context of what he was talking about in the entire Luke 12 passage which runs from verse 42 through verse 48. Taken in its entirety, we learn that Jesus is talking about a very basic principle in the Kingdom of God ... namely, that all of us are accountable for the knowledge, resources, abilities and so forth that God has blessed us with.
If we have been given much, then God expects that much more from us than from others less fortunate. We are to be faithful stewards over what God has entrusted to us. When we come to understand that everything belongs to God, and that whatever earthly things we might have are simply “on loan” from God for our short life-span, then the whole question of our giving to the poor, to worthwhile causes and, yes, to God’s church becomes clear.
On the question of tax rates, the notion of the “well-to-do” paying at a higher rate is pretty well established throughout the world, including here in the U.S. The highest federal tax rate in 2011 is somewhere around half what it was 30 or so years ago.
Dear Father Paul: I have prayed and prayed for years now for a certain thing to happen in my life, but so far, nothing ... no answer. Some of my friends tell me that I should just give up and stop praying ... that God is never going to answer my prayer. Others say I just have to “hang in there, and be persistent.” Who is right? — N. R.
Dear N. R.: I say...and the Bible says, “hang in there, and be persistent.”
There is a wonderful parable by Jesus himself on this very subject in the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 18 verses 1 – 8. There isn’t space here to print the whole passage, but I earnestly urge every person in your situation reading this column to go to the Bible and read the passage in its entirety. If you do not have a Bible, simply Google “Luke 18: 1-8.”
The story Jesus tells is about a very persistent woman who is making a plea to a judge who doesn’t care about people and doesn’t respond to her pleas. Finally, the judge relents and grants her petition, because she has “worn me out.” Jesus then makes this point: If an unjust judge who has no regard for people will eventually give in and grant a persistent request, how much more will our Father in Heaven move to answer the persistent pleas of his children whom he loves?
Don’t stop praying. Be persistent, and you will get your prayer answered.
Do you have a question or comment? I will try to answer your question in the paper. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Father Paul Massey is pastor of Church of the Holy Cross Charismatic Episcopal Church in Fayetteville, Georgia. Church of the Holy Cross is a Spirit-filled, sacramental congregation. Complete information plus recordings of Sunday sermons is at www.holycrosschurch.wordpress.com