Jesus said that “The love of money is the root of all evil.” The money in Jesus’ day had Caesar’s face on it. “What is Caesar’s belongs to Caesar,” Jesus said, “what is God’s belongs to God.”
About ten years ago I became fascinated by the idea of the imaginal nature of money, the artifice and pretense of money. I became particularly fascinated by the new invention of the bitcoin, without any real inherent value other than that of the personal belief of the owner that it had some value. Each bitcoin had a serial number corresponding to a prime number. There are infinite prime numbers and they cannot be predicted, only generated; they are manufactured by performing calculations to discover the next prime number, for which computer buffs would search with their computer. It is an endless production line.
I taught my son how to generate new primes on his home computer, and by letting it buzz and grind away he made more bitcoins, approximately 30 new bitcoins with new prime numbers. Then, both he and I lost interest in this apparently inane pursuit.
A few weeks ago I heard that the bitcoin had reached $8,000 in value per individual bitcoin. I asked my son what had happened to his collection of manufactured bitcoins. He told me that he had made 30 of them fairly quickly over several weeks back then he had sold them all for $50. He thought that had been a good profit for his effort, until I told him about the current value. Had he kept them he would have had $240,000 in valuable bitcoin currency.
He was, as you may imagine, as surprised as I was. He and his new wife had just moved into a little house for which he paid a down payment. Had he kept his phantom bitcoins he could have bought his house twice over.
Well, no one can copyright prime numbers, and I believe the next step of this lunacy is that the same mad spiral will catch other financial instruments with the same insanity. And these coins will also reproduce with a prime number stamp. I am thinking that the great bitcoin crash will happen as soon as people really think about the illusory nature of money.
In our dollar bill we place the language “in God we trust” — a reminder that money with faces is essentially a great work of our imagination.
We should also remember that we trust our family and friends, as it is in our relationships and the relationships of the community that our security is truly made real.
Jesus traveled the countryside and never worried about money. The disciples did carry a common purse and this was refilled as they traveled. Jesus’ heavenly father was all the coinage needed — all the gold of the spirit that was needed.
I pray in 2018 that you find confidence in your life, confidence in our brothers and sisters, and give out of the abundance that comes naturally to Jesus’ people.
Be well and wealthy, give incessantly!
Colin Brown is the former pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Boardman.