Pop quiz: you are a wealthy family visiting a Disney theme park which allows families with disabled children to move to the front of long lines at the rides. Do you (a) rent a mobility device and tell you child to ride it pretending to be disabled; (b) hire a disabled tour guide to be a part of your “family” so you appear to have a qualified family member; (c) write a note to Disney thanking them for showing your kids the true meaning of hospitality? You are probably not surprised to learn that many people chose (a) or(b). How do people think of these schemes? Do they have any sense that the lesson they are teaching their children, “you can buy your place in line”, is the wrong one?
I read about this story in a column by Bob Greene (WSJ, Sept. 26). Mr. Greene makes these and other points in reporting that Disney was changing its policies on giving access to families of children with disabilities because wealthy families had devised more scams than Disney could prevent. At the same time I read this story I was working my way through the advice Paul gave his young protégé, Timothy, about how to pastor wealthy people in his congregation. One of the commands to be conveyed was that “those who are rich in this present world (are) not be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain… .” So I thought maybe posting a sign with these words at the front of the ride lines would be a good idea. Of course, that would lead to a lawsuit from those who love wisdom but hate its source, namely God. But, I digress.
So, later that day I am writing to some friends in our church asking for a meeting to figure out how to keep our low-income free meal program going given that our primary funding source was cutting our future support in half. This ministry is expanding to meet a growing need at just the time that our funding is disappearing. Now what? One of the people on the ministry team replied, “we will make up the shortfall.” This was an offering of thousands of dollars. It was generous beyond my hopes. And I thought of the rest of Paul’s instruction: “Command (those who are rich) to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age.” And I thanked God for this friend who gets it: wealth is a blessing from God to be used to bless others.
Money isn’t the issue. Love is the issue. How you use your money shows who you really love. And for the wealthy and truly wise, there will be the blessings of a place in line.