“And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:23)
Many and varied are the troubles that face our church in bad economic times. Christians are no different from others in respect to the interaction we have with the world in physical matters. Although we do understand that God is in control of the economy and nothing is beyond His abilities, yet we also see that the church has never been isolated from the woes that are common to all. In the Middle Ages, Christians died of the plague just like the godless. In the Great Depression, Christian families suffered from the droughts and their bank accounts failed like everyone else’s. It is a myth to think that Christians are insulated from such problems because we are the people of God. However, this is not a sign that God does not care or that God cannot help.
There is much testing that goes on with God’s people that helps to strengthen us and move us away from any thoughts that our joy should be dependent upon the material things we possess. This is a very hard lesson to learn especially in a nation that thrives on personal wealth and measures every person by the brand name on his automobile or the label on his jeans. If you consider this from God’s perspective, if a bad economy ruins your faith, how much less will you be able to stand when things that really count go wrong? The truth is our inability to buy all the toys we used to have or to own the home that gives status will help us to focus more inwardly on things that really count. Some of the greatest stories that you’ve heard your grandparents tell about the depression of the 30’s and 40’s are not stories about recovering wealth when it was all over. The most meaningful stories to them were how their families were brought together and they began to trust God even more than ever before. You don’t really learn to trust God until you learn that you must trust God.
No person ever became a great person of faith in one huge fell swoop. Sustaining faith is built in increments. The economy may just be one of your stepping stones in the accomplishment of great faith. How are you standing the test? Some Christians will keep chasing the economy looking for a brighter future, but they will never rise to a level that will keep them from being crushed when the very worst happens. The brightest future might be right here in your church where your family can grow spiritually and eventually be knit together more closely in the home. When your kids leave home, what will they remember to tell their grandchildren? I hope their stories will be of faith and love and not a 49’er tale of chasing a gold mine.
Pastor V. Mark Smith