Thoughts On the Current Economic Crisis
The world around us, and as we know it, is falling to pieces. There’s panic at every corner — the financial crisis is sending ripple waves across the world and being felt by millions at an unprecedented speed; there’s war (Iraq, Afghanistan) and rumors of war (Iran, Israel), political uncertainty, and the list goes on.
To many, itâ€™s doom and gloom â€“ time to hunker down and try to ride out the crisis as best as we can, while counting on the governments and experts to devise manners in which to bring the world out of the mess caused by unbridled greed and lust for mammon.
Many who have already been affected, and will be affected, will be Christians — at this juncture it doesn’t matter if they are real Christians or those who just profess to be Christians. Looking at Christendom in the past several years, one wonders if much of the teachings coming from pulpits are setting up Christians to be some of the biggest losers in the crisis and perhaps even cause a great falling away (2 Thessalonians 2:3).
Look at what we have today — Christ-less Christianity that has adopted the world’s preoccupation with the self, and subsequently a feel-good “gospel” that’s all about me. God wants me to have good self image; God wants me to be successful; God wants me to be rich; God wants me to be the head and not the tail in the marketplace and the list goes on — me, me, me, and just me.
Instead of teachings on separation from the world, a denial of the flesh, and carrying one’s own cross, today many churches are teaching exactly the opposite. The flesh is to be gratified — the natural desires of man to be fulfilled through the accumulation of wealth and power. Instead of separation from the world, the filthiest, God-denying, forms of entertainment are brought into churches with the excuse that they have inherent Christian messages in them.
And then there are some of the biggest scammers in history fleecing thousands upon thousands of not-so-discerning Christians who provide a continuous stream of income for the former simply because these so-called pastors are able to quote Scripture and twist them to achieve the desired effect, much like at the beginning when the serpent told Eve, â€œYou shall not surely die.â€ (Genesis 3:1-6).
These pastors — wolves in sheep’s clothing — play on the desperation of people and appeal to their natural desires. After all, who in their right mind in the natural human state doesn’t want to be rich or powerful? And if there’s a god who can give me all that in 100-fold (or more) returns if only I give up a sizable amount of my income as a tithe or building fund, oh yes, I’ll definitely worship that god!
It worries me that in these bad times, when desperation is high, that more would be drawn to such false promises. Most would think that some folks, after realizing that the promises were empty, might abandon the teachings and return to Biblical truth but I fear that the opposite might actually be more probable.
Mind you, I’m not making light of the desperation that some of these folks might have and the extreme poverty and hardships they might face, but it is my opinion that it is in desperate times that people will turn to desperate measures, including falling chin-deep into such mire. We might therefore see some of these tricksters flourishing, fleecing what little the desperate have for their own gains with twisted Scripture and false promises.
In fact, I’d even go as far as to state that such men aren’t very much different from the scammers many of us have at one time or another received an email from at our email accounts. In order for you to claim the promised prize(s), you first have to give and give till it hurts. Their version of Matthew 7:9-11 goes something like this (added words in italics):
Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him after you give what money you have in your bank account as tithe or to the fund.
I am not speculating, but have seen how, even in dire times, many who buy into the prosperity and self-serving messages encourage one another to continue giving despite the pain and desperation. On a blog where the writer preaches the prosperity message, he advises a woman on the brink of a breakdown after failure in her business and calamities in her personal life to â€œnot give upâ€ but continue to give, believing that she will ultimately reap the returns in due time. As recent as this past Sunday, the senior pastor of a mega-church in Singapore has been telling his congregation to pledge more to the building fund and tithe more, backed up by testimonies of folks who have done so and are now rich and prosperous.
While I fear that more will fall into the traps strategically set up by such tricksters, there will also be those who will leave, disillusioned with the faith and angry with God. Most likely they will not blame themselves (for not many will), but their hearts will cry and curse God for not delivering on His promises (according to the pastors). And so, even if there was seed planted that grew a little in their hearts, whatever little bud or fruit there was would be ripped up and thrown away. In many ways, folks who have professed to be Christians but are now disillusioned and bitter are, in most cases I’ve come across, worse than militant atheists.
Finally, what is the true Bride of Christ to do? I very much believe that many in the world need to hear the Gospel — even those who have professed to be Christians but have not the fruits to identify them as being so. Perhaps what’s even more needed and necessary is for many churches to return to Biblical, Christ-centered Christianity. This is a time of cleansing and discipline when we need to pray that the will of the Lord our God be done, and we pray that part of His will is to rid His bride of the impurities of the messages of Self and Mammon.
It is also a time for Christians to be Christians — many, even those who have a good grasp of theology and see themselves as being Biblical, are Christians until they hear someone call out for financial help or other forms of assistance which might inconvenience their normal routines. Perhaps many of us are not too keen to lend without expecting anything back (Luke 6:34-35), or even offer a fellow Christian and even a non-Christian a meal or two but it is in such dire times that, I believe, true Christianity is, and should be, in action. I’m not emphasizing a social gospel, vis-a -vis Rick Warren, but the truth is that the Bride of Christ in recent times has to a certain degree been quite ensconced in our own little bubbles.
There’s no doubt in my mind that God has allowed this unprecedented financial crisis for a reason — that His Bride for His beloved Son Jesus Christ returns to an ethos that solely relies on Him, forsaking the temporal treasures of this world for His kingdom, and defines success as He defines it. As members of the body of Christ Jesus’ bride, we’ll do well to rejoice even in these troubling times, with the full knowledge that God is in control, as we encourage one another and as we pray for many to receive salvation and find true contentment in Him alone.