Discerning what to do next

One of the worst (best) things about this whole economy mess is that people can finally evaluate their lives and go in new directions.

Finally! As a Methodist minister, I can tell you that there are few moments in our lives that register in our brains as an important turn in our lives.

But perhaps this whole economy thing has progressed to the point that we can see where we were two years ago, look forward another two years, and have the tools at our disposal to move to where we need to be. A popular investment firm's advertisements emphasize that now is the best time to do something with your money, and while not everyone has money to move around, there are certainly those among us who can correct some of the wrongs we've committed in the name of capitalism.

I know, sounds just a bit optimistic and incredibly vague - but I see two very real possibilities here.

1.) Dethroning the idol of money - I'm getting to the point that I'm tired of hearing about the economy. Yes, its important for us to provide for our families, maintain personal security, and take care of our responsibilities - but the conversation borders on obsession. To God's credit, you do hear lots about Jesus and God in the news.

It seems every time you turn around someone is doing something crazy in the name of Jesus. Sometimes its good stuff, like, I dunno, jettisoning the American Dream for the Dream of God's Kingdom. The American dream is undeniably wrapped in making lots of money, being secure, and hey, if you have enough, maybe sharing some of it with your neighbors (employment just below health benefits! huzzah! Thanks!). But the Kingdom of God is, and i can't stress this enough, independent of the amount of money involved.

So, I see this idol called economy twitching on the altar as we all wait with bated breath to see if it regains consciousness. You know what? Don't care. There is a stronger, larger, and more alive God that we can suddenly turn our attention to.

2.) Restructuring our churches - with the destruction of the idol of money, we finally will be able to shed the former scaffolding that we claim assists the work of the Kingdom. Why would money have anything to do with it?

Because... the Kingdom if made up of people. Systems are made up of people who follow particular rules (read: The Book of Discipline). I'm not as foolhardy as to think the Kingdom will suddenly shift into overdrive here, but I do believe the lack of money will grease the bearings and we can get this thing moving. Think about it. On the local level, churches have to cut back positions and ministries. Rather than simply disappearing, I truly believe Churches are suddenly having to get creative. We can't PAY someone to do ministry for us, we don't have any money. Wow, we either do it ourselves (as volunteers/disciples!) or it doesn't get done.

Youth ministers become more localized since they can't travel to mexico, europe, or that massive Christian retreat that costs so much money. So suddenly events in TOWN look much better. Pastors actually have to delegate work to *gasp* church members since that position is no longer available to print your bulletins anymore. Wait, bulletins? They have to go too - word of mouth, here we come.

Churches will have to change. There isn't enough money to support the system the way it was.

The death of an idol means life is going to look a lot better. You want to know what to do next? Be better than the money you are worth. Be greater than the terror being shouted from the roof-tops.

Look, if Jesus doesn't take money's place as king, something will. We cannot exist free from direction, encouragement, a means of living, or societal order. If this nation can become a Christian nation at all, it will have to do it independently of the economical situation.


  1. No offense Jack, but I don't want the country to become a "Christian" nation. Don't get me wrong - I think the country should do what Christians should do to bring the Kingdom (take care of the less fortunate, etc)...but the second we set the country up to be a "Christian" nation, is the second we set not only the country, but the Church up for failure.

    Remember - Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and give to God what is God's.

    But yes, I believe this is a great time for Christians, and non-Christians alike to unite, and work on bringing the Kingdom to earth. The reason I say non-Christians can do this as well is that you'd be surprised at how many would strive for the same goals that the Kingdom would bring, just they wouldn't be doing it for God...but hopefully as they saw the Kingdom develop, they would see and recognize God and come to Him - remember, we all started our walk somewhere.

  2. When I see all of the people around me having to scale back, cut back, trim up, re-prioritize, re-evaluate because of the hard economy, I see a potential for a good thing.

    Looking back on my 30 years, I cared way too much about selfish stuff, money being second to me me me. At 27 I had a half million dollar house, 50k cars, boat, motorcycle, 65" TV's, etc.. That was my identity. I was unhappy, and I tried to use my money to make myself feel better. When times got tough and I did not have this outlet to try and make it day to day, I started to have trouble ignoring how unhappy spiritually I was. The revelation did not come over night, but when I finally hit "rock bottom" and started trying to figure out just who I was, the Lord really opened his arms to me.

    Fast forward to today...I am 31 and still have enough income to support the "materialistic" life I used to live. But because of that experience of not having it for a stint, I realized what was important to me. I spend 1/3 of what I used to on my living expenses, and as a result I am able to help so many more people.

    Sadly, it takes a "hard times" experience for some people to finally realize they can't do it on their own. What a wonderful opportunity to turn a negative into a positive. Maybe some churches will reevaluate that 9k grand piano and instead, feed some homeless. Help some people pay the power bill. Give rides to people to church. So many ways to help people out there and I waste too much of that time pecking on this computer :)

    I am with you Jack, good riddance money. And the penny...seriously? We are still making pennies?


  3. No offense taken Mitchell, but I want to clarify my position.

    When most people say Christian nation, they think of government endorsed Christian morals/values/evangelism. Regardless of the success or failure of such associations in America, I don't think the "Christian Nation" that some claim America is/was can ever be brought back. And I wouldn't hope for it.

    When I say Christian nation, it might be more apt to say, "Nation full of Christians" and if that isn't clear enough, "A nation full of Jesus-followers" - because really, we can't serve two masters at once, right? And if we keep Christ's Kingdom top priority, the dreams of Christ are more important than the American Dream. It doesn't mean we move somewhere different. It means we live in a different way where we are (usually), right?

    A good question might be that if the nation has more honest Jesus Followers in it, how do we keep America from adopting the labels, programs, and government/church confusion?

    My hope is not that appearance of the nation returns to christianity, its that the insides of the nation will. And none of us need labels to confuse God's work in that regard - its either there or it isn't.

  4. The idea of a "Christian Nation" defined as a "A nation full of Jesus-followers" is definitely something I can support ;)


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