>    I was talking to a new friend who works with minority inmates transitioning into society in the final year of their sentence.  My friend runs a farm so that A) there is a revenue stream and B) the inmates develop practical skills for employment after they are released.

    We were talking about the struggles to raise money and the irony that the bigger the church is, the less likely they are to give financially to a ministry that is not housed with them (I have heard this from a number of people).
    It was an educational conversation on many levels.

    There was one story that really got my attention. It was about a preacher on the radio (this preacher would be well known to almost everyone reading this) who was talking about some of the conflicts in the Book of Acts.

    The preacher was saying that even in the early church (and all throughout church history) there has been all sorts of conflict about opinions over behavior in living out the faith. Food was an example – opinions about who could eat when and what someone else ate that you wouldn’t be o.k. eating. Same with drink. Some are o.k. with drinking some things that others think they shouldn’t be drinking.

    Side note: This is always an interesting conversation with someone from a different background, from a different culture or of a different race.

    Then the story turned (as my friend reported it to me). The preacher then said “its like people who don’t have a house being critical of christian leaders who have two or three houses. That is none of their business. They shouldn’t have an opinion on that.”

    My friend was somewhere between flustered and perplexed. We got talking about economic theory, the nature of conservatism, and current excesses in capitalism.

    I said “It’s even worse than that … what the preacher did!”

Stop: take a minute and think about how you feel about christian leaders having 2 or 3 homes and if you object, why you object.

My Take:  I use to think about this in a “status” way or even “substance” way by trying get down to the possible motive behind buying 3 houses.

    Now, I try to look at it through a Relationship lens. In that light, the preacher switched the conversation. He changed the categories.   When you are talking about eating with someone – you are talking about being in relationship. SO if I eat something that offends your conscience, then it effects our connection – our fellowship.

    The difference is that if you have a big house (or multiple houses) and you go there – it can takes us out of relationship. It does not have us in fellowship. You going to your house is the opposite of us coming to the table together. They are not the same thing.

    My point is that eating together brings us into relationship. You have 3 homes that you can go to and me not having one takes us out of relationship.

    If you try to address this through Status language or attempt to analyze this through Structural constructs (like Economics) then you may miss why two christians eating together and religious leaders owning 2 or 3 houses are not the same thing.

I think that it is important to think about this for its relational component.

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