HAMPSTEAD, N.C. (BP)–For perhaps the first time in my life since the final exam, I wish I had paid more attention in Economics 101. About all I can now recall is that economics has something to do with guns and butter and that my ex-hippie professor plainly thought more butter was better. Now I sit in my den at night and watch the economic gurus of the land talk gravely about frozen interbank credit lines, hedge fund collapses and a mortgage crisis that all apparently started with the carelessness of some American couple named Freddie and Fannie. I keep hoping, but so far, not a word about guns and butter.
Since I am not able to follow the intricacies of their economic arguments, you’ll have to deal me out on that discussion. One thing I can say, however, is that the tone and demeanor of these talking heads indicates that they are convinced some form of economic Armageddon could loom just over the horizon. To the economist, that spells certain doom. But to the Christian, it could be a blessing in disguise.
Scripture leads us to expect that wealth and prosperity can be a real test to our spiritual commitment. By any measure, we have enjoyed decades of economic growth and resultant wealth in our country. Rather than bless God for it, and seek to use the wealth for His Kingdom’s work, the increasing wealth has turned the hearts of many away from trust in God.
For years I have joined with other believers at Wednesday night prayer meetings, National Day of Prayer rallies and any number of other venues and prayed that God would revive the church in America. A question every Christian ought to be asking is: Could God be using these uncertain economic times as a wake-up call to see where our trust really lies? It does not take a perceptive soul to see that many American Christians are far more concerned about the collapse of their investment portfolios than they are about the spiritual collapse of the nation. One is suddenly a crisis to be fought off at all costs; the other has hardly elicited a yawn for decades.
I think several responses to the present economic turmoil are warranted by American believers.
First, we should take stock of our reaction to all the unsettling news and view it as a spiritual check-up. If we find ourselves more animated and agitated about the fate of our personal or national finances than we have been about the state of our souls or the spiritual climate around us, we have learned something important. Let us repent of misplaced priorities and misplaced trust. Let us learn to seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness. Let us learn again to trust in God for our daily bread from His hands.
Second, Christians need to be modeling good financial stewardship. That means living within our means and being content with what we can really afford, not what lifestyle we can support with the unwise use of credit. One reason why the church today has so little success in leading others into the Kingdom of God is that we ourselves live primarily for this world. Against the backdrop of a worldly church, evangelistic efforts seem impossibly hollow.
Third, we need to continue to ask God for revival. And we need to value revival such that we are willing to suffer great loss if that is the vehicle by which God chooses to turn our hearts back to Him.
Before you listen to the news tonight, recall the words of David in the Psalms, “He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will not be shaken. My salvation and glory depend on God; my strong rock, my refuge, is in God. Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before Him. God is our refuge. (Psalm 62:6-8). Let us glory in the fact that as Christians we do not have to wait for the Congress to come and bail us out. We have peace and security in God, come what may. Let us also look with compassion on those who do not know God and introduce them to our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus.”
Paul Brewster is pastor of Barlow-Vista Baptist Church in Hampstead, N.C.