Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Problems and Opportunities

The stock market is on a roller coaster ride. Some economists say the United States is headed for another recession. European nations are in crisis. The U.S. credit rating has been downgraded. Unemployment continues to be a major problem.

Some say the United States is being punished for "turning away from God." Others say that this is a sure sign of the end. These things may be true or they may not. I wonder if maybe God is finished with this country as far as blessing it and using it to bless the world. Many see these things as serious problems, and there are some who are even reacting in the same manner as those who put their trust in material things rather than God.

I do believe we may be in for some rough times in this country. What that will mean is left up to far wiser folks than me to figure out. What I do know is that the coming bad times, if they come, will present those who claim to follow Jesus the opportunity to put their money (or their houses, cars, or other possessions) where their mouth is.

One of the primary things said about about the early church was that there were no poor persons among them. If you remember, this was at a time when there were a whole lot of poor people around the Empire. The followers of Jesus, because they were devoted to Jesus Christ and to each other, were willing to go so far as selling their possessions in order to help those who were in need. How far are we willing to go?

Are we willing to sell something to give to a fellow Christian who has lost employment? Are we willing to change our routine and patronize a business on order to help a brother or sister in Christ? Are we willing to provide living space for someone who has lost their home? Are we willing to share possessions (clothes, yard tools, cooking utensils, etc.) in order to ease someone's burden? In short, are we willing to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters?

A friend said to me that she believed God was telling her that the time was short. While this could refer to the end times, I think that maybe it's our time as prosperous "American Christians" that is short. I believe that it may not be very long before those of us who claim to follow Jesus will have to put up or shut up.

God help us to be found faithful.


Kansas Bob said...

I think that many of us would gladly lay down our lives for our friends Fred. Yet this message has never been the focus of evangelical churches. So I do not think that many believers are even prepared to live in an sort of sacrificial way.

The truth is that less than 5% of church outlays are focused towards the poor. Another inconvenient truth is that many (most?) believers have not prepared themselves financially for difficult times. I think that it would be difficult for people who have lived conservatively to sacrifice for those who have lived recklessly. I am not sure that it would be biblical in some cases to do it.

Of course we should all be wary of taking advantage of people in these circumstances in ways similar to the way that Pharaoh did when he listened to Joseph's counsel. Our charitable help should never have a price tag attached to it.

Hope my comment does not come across as hard or uncaring. It is not meant to be.

co_heir said...

Bob, I don't think your comment was hard or uncaring. I agree. The church has not taught its people how to live sacrificially, so even though we may be willing to lay down our lives, we don't know how. Because of that lack of teaching, folks don't know how to handle the fakes or those who have not adequately prepared for themselves. There are a lot of pitfalls, but I believe if we err we should err on the side of love.

AmyW said...

I agree...if we err, it should be on the side of love. I believe if God puts a need in front of you, it's for a reason. Too often, I see many in the church try to rationalize whether or not the need is legit. There will always be folks who take advantage but for every person who misuses, I believe there are many who don't misuse. I think Satan loves to keep our focus on those who misuse.

The church, as a whole, is unprepared. My church is still spinning its wheels over it's "future"...."Do we build another new, expansive facility?....Do we start satellite locations?...ya-da-ya-da-ya....for three stinking years, we've been mired in this discussion! I firmly believe we relive those moments in the future and hang our heads in shame. What a waste of time! What a waste of energy and precious resources! We're like a hamster going round and round on a wheel.

You're right.... it may not be very long before we have to put up or shut up. Call me a goofy optimist, but I think we are called "for such a time as this" and the opportunity to serve and the potential impact will be unprecedented.

co_heir said...

Amy, I think you are right. The time may be close for the church to be the church. Maybe God will use us to turn the American world upside down. :)

Acts 14

From my opportunity to teach in our gathering this morning: