23 Mar 2015
Foster, Richard J., The Challenge of the Disciplined Life: Christian Reflections on Money, Sex & Power (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1985), pp 260.
The Background Information on the Author
Richard J. Forster is an author in the Quaker tradition of several bestselling books, including Celebration of Discipline, Streams of Living Water, and Prayer, which was Christianity today's book of the Year and the winner of the Gold Medallion Award from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. He has been a professor at Friends University and pastor of Evangelical Friends churches. He is also the founder of Renovaré (Renovaré exits to inspire and support people in developing an integrated and fulfilled life as a disciple of Jesus Christ).
He was married to 'Carolynn' in 1967 and has two children, 'Joel' and 'Nathan' and they now reside in Denver, Colorado.
The Summary of Content
As it is revealed in the title, the three issues are concepts that humankind has come together with them for a long. There are no more words that can be explained than these three words exactly and clearly. No one cannot be free and confidence in front of these words in this world. It might be tied to all three issues or some people might show their weaknesses in particular one.
Then now, let us have a look at three religious points of view that what Richard Forster is trying to say.
First, the Mammon which is the material idol that it is frequently discussed with God. The bible declares the money as a 'Mammon', gives a spiritual and personal quality, and gives adjective 'unrighteous' (Luke 16:9) in front of money. The money to Jesus Christ means it is idolatry that we must turn against for heading toward him because the money decisively has almightiness upon us. Thus, the bible does not only criticise about unrighteous money, but also gives a strict warning to people who gained riches earnestly such as a rich man (Luke 16:19~31) in the parable of the Rich man and Lazarus and a rich farmer (Luke 12:13~21) who might have been honest and hard working.
The author prescribes about the money that money is spiritual being and describes about light and dark side of money. It does not simply describe superficially, but it is speaking realistically in the biblical aspect.
He emphasises to use money for a purpose of the kingdom of God rather than simply running away from it. To use money rather than served. It is emphasised mastering against money. Then, what can we do in regard to control and master against the money? It will have to learn to control money throughout giving which is insulting behaviour about money.
The light side of money presents God's grace and surprisingly, this is the way of improving relationship between God and us. God said that 'use worldly wealth to gain friends' (Luke 16:9). We have to know about the poisonous matter of money clearly. However, we have to conquer money and use it for the uneconomic purpose rather than refusing money.
Second, it is the period of overflowing of sex without asking questions nowadays. There is no place anywhere in the street for our eyes because of every kind sex appeal as well as TV and Internet. The author says that the issue of our times these days is not because of too much emphasis on sex, but on the contrary, it is caused by not to be emphasised enough to deal with sex. It is a matter of course that the sex can destroy us if not to be careful and moderate by its characteristic. However, we miss blessing of sex, which is given to us as a gift due to our distortional eyes.
The sex, which is not the enemy of Spirituality is a friend. The Genesis admits our sex, and the Song of Songs blesses it. However, the sin has distorted the sex. Therefore, the Christians' challenge is to straighten our understanding of sex and transpose into the perfect appearance of sex throughout distortional appearance of sex. The principle of marriage in accordance with God's will, should look out for other people's happiness and ourselves, and contribute to building the kingdom of God on this world. The sex is a great and blessed gift in all respects those who married.
Finally, he is saying about the power. As is generally known that the money is like power in this world, and the money, power and sex is all related to the corruption deeply.
The power of the world appears destruction of the relationship due to distinction between the strong and the weak. This destructive power cut off the equal relationships and it appears that one human being reigns over one another. On the other hand, the creative power is completed from serving that we discover the creativity from the example of Jesus, who personally served to die for us. The creative power which recovers broken relationships and raises up each other, is displayed from the aspect of serving.
On the positive side, the creative power gives life, joy and peace. 'It is freedom and not bondage, life and not death, transformation and not coercion'. The creative power is spiritual and the power proceeds from God.
Does the author deal with both positive and negative side of issue?
The author is saying both sides about the money and power. In respect of the power, he looks upon the creative power as positive side.
What is the unique, important and interesting point of this book?
First, the unique point is that it is saying about the money, sex and power. There are no more words that can be explained than these three words exactly and clearly. That is why this book is interesting.
Who should read this book and what concepts of this book can be applied to ministry?
The money, sex and power is important and meaningful theme that it is not only Christian but also all people. Christian may feel like a taboo about these three concepts but cannot live without it. Richard Foster analyses the money, sex and power which gives people a meaning and delivers God's messages clearly.
We are occasionally living under the many temptations, and sometimes we are not aware that what it is right and wrong to be involved in a wave of the world and valves. Then most Christians' reaction is one of two that either they forget the truth under the things of the world, or they treat things as corruption and evil and strongly deny them.
For this reason, the author Richard Foster is deeply dealing with three areas which people easily fall into temptation that anyone is easy to commit a sin.
The money and power is all given from God and these are neither good nor bad. However, there are surely two different sides on them. It is hard to agree with, but there must be evil force in there. By knowing this matter, when using good side, we could use money and power wisely that is given to us.
The only sex has no evil part. This is God's blessing to permit to us. However, it is feeling that many people give a too much meaning and concentrate on having a sex or not because the Satan may probably be interested in deteriorating our gift which is given from God.
The money, sex and power, these three issues will be important value to control us. The money threatens a pocket, the sex threatens a bedroom and the power threatens our relationships. In this period of temptation that it is never discerned what is right and wrong, this book is useful and necessary indeed.
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