I've been thinking a lot recently about all the bleak economic predictions recently. After all, everyone is talking about it...at least when we're not talking politics or about the inauguration. Below are some really worthwhile thoughts (originally came to me in an email from SPU), with my comments afterwards.
Counter-Cultural in Tough Economic Times
Christians do not get their sense of identity or security form what they have or what they earn, but rather from the fact that they have been identified as children of God and loved by him. As Christians we should approach the current economic crisis differently. We should, in fact, stand out as counter-cultural.
Let me suggest three ways in which Christians should be distinguishable during these times:
First, Christians must be slow to join the "blame game." We should approach this situation with humility in part because it is incredibly complicated and very difficult to figure out who actually should be blamed. Christians should also recognize that no one of us is eligible "to throw the first stone" since all of us have played a part in fueling this crisis. Moreover, we must remember that while Christians should legitimately seek justice, justice is never about vengeance. It is always about redemption.
Second, in times of turmoil and perceived scarcity, the world is likely to "circle the wagons" with everyone trying to protect his or her own. Individuals are likely to be less charitably minded. US domestic programs that are intended to reach out to people at the margins are likely to be under political pressure. Everyone expects foreign aid to be decreased.
But Christians have always been known for their generosity and we must continue this open-handed approach to the needy in our world--particularly at times like these. In the first century, the church was known by the surrounding community precisely because of its generosity. This century should be no different.
Finally, Christians always have the opportunity to choose to operate out of hope rather than fear. We have a hope that is grounded in the assurance that in the end God will have his way. His shalom will prevail. Let us live as beacons of hope in what might otherwise be dark times.
Jeff Van Duzer
Dean, School of Business and Economics, Seattle Pacific University
I intend to post several other blog updates in the very-near future, one of which will deal with the idea of hope. And this is what God asks us as Christians to do—to be people of hope despite the circumstances; to give in plenty but also in lack. It frightens me to think of the ripple effect looking out for "Number One" might have during such times. If as Christians we all stop or significantly reduce our giving, what becomes of our missionaries who are on the front lines? What happens to the humanitarian agencies that are faced with increasing numbers of people in desperate need? What does it say of us as the church, God’s visible representation of Himself on earth, if we simply stop giving because we are more concerned about ourselves than our neighbors? Can we even claim to be the Church if we are not generous?
Let your light so shine; live as the "beacon of hope" that Van Duzer talks about. May the world see Christ in you as you give of yourself, your money, and your time.