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.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Christians and the Economic Crunch. Part 3

A Call to Stewardship. by Calorius

My views on savings and expenditure are actually not much different from those expressed by Robbo in the first post on this subject . When you save up to buy something, you hopefully keep it in an interest bearing account- even if it's just money market or treasury bills or bonds, so the only difference between "my" method and "his" is that I take delivery of the goods earlier whereas he waits till later. I am no claiming that my method is better. It just works for me at my income and needs level because the things I want or need now, I cannot wait or afford myself the time to save up for.

A more important point, which has been alluded to already, is the responsibility of being conservative (not in the political sense, but rather in the sense of stewardship) with wealth and resources. Just as we criticize the excesses of those who live visible ostentation, we have to examine our own lives and find that it is really a matter of degree; there are many areas in my own life where I fail to be sensible. It is no excuse for me to say that I earned the money myself.

These resources, which can mostly although not completely be described as wealth, are easily grouped by ownership into three broad areas- personal, societal and natural resources. Having already confessed my failure in personal stewardship, I want to look at the societal and natural resources aspects. I have to ask myself: have I been a net consumer or a net producer of my country’s resources, more than is my due as a citizen? What is my carbon footprint? What is my contribution to the society in which I live, compared to my consumption of its resources? How much pollution do I produce, how much oil do I consume?

There is a growing opinion pool that argues that these things are a part of Christian stewardship.
In these areas, some of our civil and Christian leaders have failed us. I was in Ghana two years ago in the middle of the rolling electricity blackouts. Never once did I hear the President or any politician or preacher or newspaper editor say something about encouraging people to conserve power. On the days that electricity was provided, everyone tried to maximize their use of power in anticipation of the expected cut, because "today we have light".

In come countries, the building codes require that people collect rain water off their roofs; it’s a simple design modification. There are many simple things that can be done to conserve resources and reduce waste. I recall the time in the seventies when our then Head of State in Ghana, the late Kutu Acheampong encouraged backyard gardening and food production even in the cities under the slogan Operation Feed Yourself. He also talked concepts such as Operation Feed Your Industries, Self Reliance, Walatu Walasa etc., all in the name of stewardship.

Here in America, in the middle of a war and a near-recession, we still hear no national cry to tighten our belts. A largely democratic congress aligned itself with the President to send a "stimulus package; please go out and spend it" to the American people. The President does not publicly ask people to downsize their spending, reduce their carbon emissions or reduce energy usage. To be fair, it's partly based on a theoretical fear that such talk would precipitate a recession.

We are not hearing these calls from Christian leaders either. They are correct in saying that Christian giving should not wane during such difficult times, as is clearly seen from the Corinthians chapter. Those of us who can afford it should give more during such times. Where we differ from these leaders is in the target/recipient of such giving, and the reason- charity as well as ministry support, not one without the other. Christian leaders are not encouraging us to tighten our belts, which is partly because they think to admit that we are not that well off would lead to less giving. In this they are wrong. Sometimes the people who think they are poor give more than those who think they are rich.

I better stop here- I'm beginning to sound like one of these TV pundits, full of long sentences of criticism with very little said about people's good deeds and very little self-examination -Calorius

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Christians and the Economic Crunch. Part 2

A Passage for Reflection

2 Corinthians Chapter 8 is a magnificent passage to consider and a good relay station for reflection on how the local and wider Christian Church should respond. Written on the background of the economic downturn and famine in Jerusalem and Paul's efforts to raise money to help them, the chapter is laden with what I would consider relevant economic phrases and terms such as

1. "most severe trial" (verse 2)

2. "their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity" (verse 2)

3. "they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own," (verse. 3)

4. "see that you also excel in this grace of giving" (verse 7) - and Paul is not talking about giving to Tele-evangelist ministries or the latest building project, but to the Jerusalem poor struck by famine!

5. "though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor" (vs. 9)

6. "the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have" (vs. 12)

7. "Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality" (vs. 13) etc, etc, etc

The whole chapter is full of what Christians should do during times of economic hardship, not just their own hardship but that of others too.

I saw one Tele-evangelist "blessing" of his new airplane on BBC news the other day, and I found it sad that a bundle of believers had gathered at a runway praying and rejoicing because they had contributed to the largesse and opulence of another brother. I sometimes think that is one the reasons it is difficult for some European believers to call themselves Evangelicals, seeing that the term has being hijacked by such. Forgive my ranting. A major repentance in our attitude to money, the poor and hungry of this world is called for, my brothers. - Annang

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