Our church is holding a Dave Ramsey: Town Hall for Hope meeting on Thursday, and I’m definitely excited to see what kind of things he has to say about the role of the church in our current situation. Headlines are gushing with jobs lost and bailouts in progress. Pessimists have their heads in the ground and optimists have their heads in the clouds. Is there anything between doomsday fearmongering and unsubstantiated hope in our economy?
I think Jesus would say, “Of course, you silly sheep.”
I was reading the book of 1 John in the New Testament and, as I’ve come to expect, a bit of truth popped up from the page and bear-hugged me. In the fourth chapter John spends a good chunk of his words trying to get across how loving God is. God is the source of love (vs 7), God is love (8), and God showed us love by sending his son into the world so that we might live through him (9). After that in verse 18 he says,
And I started thinking about the fear constantly portrayed in the media, the same fear that has propelled the government to make some fairly rash decisions that will greatly affect the wealth of my generation. This is the same fear that has people stretching their oil changes on their cars and eating out less often. It comes out in layoffs as well as huge executive bonuses.
This is may be a healthy fear. John says that fear has to do with punishment and there seems to be an abundance of punishable behavior going on in the world.
But what about Christians? Self-proclaimed followers of Christ who are living as ambassadors of heaven here on earth should be holding out the truth, which I think looks a little like this:
God is love.
Love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.
Human beings deserve punishment when they do wrong.
God is the judge of what’s right and wrong, as well as the punisher.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and get punished.
If we confess our sins, he is just and will forgive us our sins and purify us.
This is way more important for all the hopeless, jobless, fearful people of the world to hear than that the government is going to spend our way out of the current mess. I’ve heard it said that greed is not wanting money, but expecting money to solve your problems.
If we’ve misused our money, time, resources, there will be punishment.
BUT the good news is that God is bigger than the creditors, the government, and all our problems and he loves us passionately. If we admit that we are screwed up, believe that he can and wants to save us, and then commit to following him as he leads for the rest of our lives, then we live a life of love and fear is driven out! But more importantly, we live a life of love- I can’t think of anything more fulfilling than that.