I was talking to ‘ole Nobe yesterday. It’s always a treat to talk to Noble Mundy. We talk mostly on Sunday mornings; working side-by-side setting up chairs in the Family Life Center for worship. Noble and I talk sports, jokes, kids, grandkids and about why it’s tough to get anybody to help do anything these days. The take I get on it from Noble is that people just do the easy thing these days. They serve the god of Convenience above most other gods.
This past Sunday Noble and I were talking economics. He’s at the age to worry about his retirement funds. It’s a big concern to him that, in one day last week, he lost several thousand dollars from the value of his retirement account. The funds in a retirement account are what generate the money a person lives on in retirement, in many people’s cases. So he has every right to worry. And I hear more and more people worried about life and money and the future as we face the most important economic situation in most of our lifetimes. About the only good news right now is that Gas prices are down.
So I’m trying to figure out how to walk by Faith in all this. Not faith in the fact the everything will be alright by earthly standards. Not faith in the fact that the Market always returns predictable gains in the long run. Not faith in the fact that, historically, economic bubbles burst, then fall, then rise again with renewed strength. And not faith in $700 billion that really amounts to little more than large numbers getting pushed around on many, many computer screens and pieces of paper: that money is to fight a credit crunch and liquidity crisis. It’s not to buoy our spirits. We need Faith for that.
With all this on my mind, I ran across a piece by Chuck Colson on Christianity Today’s website, which directly addresses the financial crisis. Here’s a quote from that piece. You can read the entire article here.
Most of us have been badly shaken by the tumultuous events on Wall Street in recent weeks. If you have an IRA or some kind of retirement plan, no doubt you are licking your wounds. You may even be fearful. I understand. I have experienced those apprehensions myself.
But we need to remember that fear is always the enemy of faith. The financial markets are his. The world is his.
Here is something else to remember: God often uses adversity for his greatest blessings — in several ways in this case. Christians are called to do the best things in the worst of times.
Above all, remember this: God is on his throne. Maybe the “eat, drink, and be merry” attitude of Americans needed a little adjustment — as does the spiritually casual attitude of the church.
I have no desire to debate the details of the current financial economic problems or solutions. But I do have a desire to discuss the spiritual economic problems and solutions that are timely to this financial crisis. Ronald Reagan, may he rest in peace and honor, always espoused a theory called Trickle Down Economics: a theory that says if you strengthen and invest in business at the top levels that the money and resources will ‘trickle down’ through all levels of business and employees. In other words, the way to help the people towards the bottom is to strengthen the people near the top since they holds the reigns of the economy. This is a fairly sound, logical theory that, arguably, worked well for our economy for many years.
But as the people in top levels of business seem more self-advancing and self-absorbed than in the past, there is less trickle and more damming going on. And I don’t mean cursing. I mean that as top executive compensation has risen, less has been left to trickle. We’re now to the point that many people are calling for governmental reforms on executive compensation.
All this has me thinking on Christians. As we’re called to be the presence of Jesus, we’re called to be pictures of faith, peace and hope. This puts us on the upper levels of the spiritual economy; not in a way that should make us arrogant or condescending. But rather in a way that should make us very aware of trickle down economics. We should be active in sharing the blessings of our faith, hope and peace. This isn’t a time to be hedging out bets and not talking about our faith just in case things keep getting worse financially or otherwise. This is a time to step to the front of your families, churches and communities with words of peace and hope. Let your faith trickle down into the lives of people around you and speak peace to them. Don’t be shy and don’t let pessimism go unconfronted in your presence. You don’t need financial answers to confront fear. You need a bold faith and a heart to share what truly brings peace: not stable economies but a stable, immutable God.
2 Corinthians 1: 2-7
May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.
Philippians 2: 1-4
Does your life in Christ give you strength? Does his love comfort you? Do we share together in the spirit? Do you have mercy and kindness? If so, make me very happy by having the same thoughts, sharing the same love, and having one mind and purpose. When you do things, do not let selfishness or pride be your guide. Instead, be humble and give more honor to others than to yourselves. Do not be interested only in your own life, but be interested in the lives of others.
Philippians 2: 14, 15
Do everything without complaining or arguing. Then you will be innocent and without any wrong. You will be God’s children without fault. But you are living with crooked and mean people all around you, among whom you shine like stars in the dark world.
So trickle, trickle, little stars. Let the love, peace and hope of your faith not just abide in your hearts. But let the peace of God trickle down from your spirit and out to the spirits of troubled people around you. Open your mouths, speak peace and shine.