Gold Coast Bereans

Out of Ghana, West Africa; Christian hearts and critical minds seeking, speaking and writing the truth with love. This is a conversation of a group of friends, now living in the USA and the UK, who have known each other for more than 20 years.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Christians and the Economic Crunch. Part 1


I have heard some of the Christian response to the present economic difficulties with the high gas prices and grocery prices on Christian cable television. One preacher said that while in a Ski lift on vacation, (where else?), God told him to tell his partners that everything the media is saying about the recession and the economy refers only to the world’s economy; God’s economy in which Christians operate is not subject to recession. He was urging them to continue to contribute as usual to his ministry. Very disappointing!

Some people have started “praying at the pump” for lower petrol and oil prices. See this link where the Internet Monk, one of the bloggers linked on our sidebar, makes many simple yet profound points which challenge me and which I believe every Christian, particularly in America, must heed. My own Pastor recently, in speaking about the subject of Faith, made the point that we must continue to believe God for provision in this time of economic difficulty. I do not have a problem with that. I have believed God for the provision of food, clothing and shelter my entire life. I often consider my present situation in life where it looks like I can afford food, clothing, shelter and much more simply by virtue of the career and position God has allowed me, as an aberration and wonder about the “norm” I was used to growing up.

How can we separate the reality that some Christians who did not have difficulty when petrol was 1.45 dollars a gallon now find themselves in different circumstances when it is 4 dollars? How can we ask such people to grin and bear it, think optimistically and continue to give to the "ministry" at the same level? Is the Church not called to make any adjustments whatsoever?
I wonder if part of the problem is that Americans and American Christians have become used to a lifestyle and expectation which is abnormal and I wonder if it is not time for preachers to be talking about changing behavior rather than expecting that God will come through to help us maintain aberrant lifestyles and economics; simple things like always living within one’s means and borrowing only to fulfill a need, not for immediate gratification. Advertisements here constantly scream “zero down payment”, “no interest for three year” etc to entice.

The present credit crisis has its roots at the very top where the US Government is now trillions of dollars in debt to the Chinese and no one knows who is going to pay and when or how that money is going to be paid. I know Calorius disagrees very much with my financial philosophy, which I crafted and honed through pain, blood and tears, along the slow moving waters of the Volta Lake in Ghana. I usually save up when I want something and then buy; delayed gratification. The only thing I want to personally owe money on is my house. Even that, I want the pay it off as soon as possible because I resent the interest the bank is getting from me every month. Calorius’ argument is that you can use the credit from the bank and then invest your own money elsewhere for a higher return.

I think there is a balance somewhere in the middle of all this but in my opinion America has been at the extreme end of borrowing and Christians have bought into it. Churches have mortgages on their property that run into millions of dollars. Well, at least some preachers have encountered reality and put their private jets on sale , rather than believe God for more maintenance and fuel money from their congregations. It is easy for me to look at the preachers and Churches who make the news, and make little comments here and there but I am more concerned with the vast majority of Christians in “ordinary” Churches all over the country and the world. Is the economic crisis, particularly as it relates to the oil prices, not a signal for us to change behavior, rather than another opportunity to exercise “faith” or propose new eschatological theories and derivations? - Robbo

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