Faith Matters: Try the new economy that Jesus introduced 2000 years ago
Minister, Church of the Eternal Hills
How many of us would like a new economy? Throughout this past year, especially over this past two weeks, a new economy sounds awfully good.
I have been shaking my head in disbelief over events that seem to amplify how difficult this year has been for so many. The stock market’s had the sixth biggest points plunge in one day, one of our nations largest and oldest financial institutions Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, the investment institution of Meryl Lynch faced the choice of financial insolvency or merge with Bank of America, and AIG, the USA’s largest insurance company, teetered on the edge of going under.
We in the United States are in the midst of uncertain financial times, with wavering financial markets, a plummeting housing market, rising fuel costs, and rising costs of operations for most businesses and households. Within this uncertainty is the reality that we have or we know of too many friends who have had hours cut back at work or have out right lost jobs.
Of course, in response to the economic struggles the 2008 presidential candidates from both major parties are stumping their solutions to try to fix the problems. As the candidates stump, our current administration, congress and other government agencies have stepped in numerous times over the past year to offer billions upon billions of dollars to help individuals who are caught in the mortgage crunch and to help corporations struggling to manage their bottom line. Many are trying to act to quickly ease our economic woes.
In these challenging times the Christian scriptures offer more than words of advice and hope, they offer a new economy. In the book Christians know as the gospel of Luke, Jesus spends a great deal of time introducing this new economy. The essence of which is summed up Luke 12: 22-23 “[Jesus] said to his disciples, ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing” (NRSV).
I know these two lines when taken by themselves sound amazingly trite-almost like the 1980’s pop song “Don’t Worry be Happy”. It is awful easy to say, but when you are not sure if your job is secure, as you watch your retirement savings dwindle, and/or as you wonder whether your college grad will be employed in May 2009, it is extremely hard to say, “I won’t worry.”
Fortunately for us, Jesus says and does so much more throughout the Gospel of Luke. Jesus says, “Don’t worry, trust God, trust that God will provide.”
Trusting God is not another step into the square-wheeled trite mobile. Trusting God as we see 70 followers of Jesus do in Luke 10:1-20 is extremely fresh and active. Jesus sent 70 of his followers out to do the work of God’s ministry in the world. Jesus instructed them to journey in pairs without any supplies, except the clothes on their backs. The followers were then told to trust that those with whom they shared the message of God’s love would welcome them. The followers were to trust that these new friends would provide a comfortable bed and warm meal. The followers were to trust that through these new friends God would provide. As they trusted in God, they also worked hard long days sharing the stories of God’s love and faithfulness. The 70 used the gifts God gave them, they worked hard, and in so doing they trusted God would provide. As we hear in the story, the 70 came back excited with how God provided for them.
I am not sure exactly how God will provide for us. There is no magic faith formula, which dictates if we do X and Y then we will get Z. Faith is not science and God is not an economic equation to be manipulated. But I do know that in times of struggle and in times of joy God provides, not necessarily through new clothes, or a bigger house, or the dream job. God provides through friends, God provides through faithful groups like the series of food closets and assistance programs within our Grand County Churches, God provides through strangers we are yet to meet, God provides through prayer and through worship with the faithful.
As our nation teeters on economic crisis and as we as individuals struggle to know how this will impact us, live in the new economy that Jesus introduced 2000 years ago ” trust that God will provide.
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