Does this quote by Paulinus of Nola trouble you?
We have no right to our possessions; they have been entrusted to us for the good of all. Let us then invest with the Lord what he has given us, for we have nothing that does not come from God: we are dependent upon God for our very existence. And we ourselves particularly, who have a special and a greater debt, since God not only created us but purchased us as well; what can we regard as our own when we do not possess even ourselves?It troubled me when I first read it. It think it is because the Western Church has become entwined in Western Politics and Western Philosophy. We place more emphasis on our rights as Americans than on our responsibilities as Christians. The early church did not.
All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:44-47Which one of us can say that we have anything, anything at all, that we have not been given by God? Every second, every minute, every breath, every meal, and every material thing is a gift. Not earned. Not deserved. That is unsettling to all of us who pride ourselves because we believe that we ourselves have accomplished so much. "Self made men and women" is what we think. No, we are all blessed to have everything we own, everything we possess. If I can get myself to start thinking that way, I just might start thinking like Paulinus of Nola. What do you think?
Paulinus of Nola was a Latin poet and letter-writer, and a convert to the Christian faith. His renunciation of wealth and a senatorial career in favour of a Christian ascetic and philanthropic life was held up as an example by many of his contemporaries, including Augustine, Jerome, Martin of Tours, and Ambrose.