Feb 12, 2009

RECESSION-PROOFING I- Expect Rightly

There is such a thing as having right expectations. There is also such a thing as having wrong expectations. Healthy living in this failing economic environment requires us to expect rightly. What we expect regarding the world economy hurts or redeems the quality of our lives in the face of current economic crisis.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:19 about what is and isn't right expectation as far us our world economies are concerned. He warns us to expect a sudden collapse or meltdown of our earthly securities and investments. He warns us that moth and rust are sure to nibble away on our lives' savings.

We are seeing the spectacular fulfillment of these warnings in our time as huge Wall-Street conglomerates collapse overnight. They are taking with them thousands of dollars of investors' money and workers' jobs.

Isn't this the rust and moth that Jesus is talking about? No matter how gigantic a worldly system might be, it will ultimately collapse. It is natural for it to come to a sudden or gradual demise. It will succumb to external factors that are not of its' own making and over which it has little or no control at one point or another. This is the reality of a fallen world.

Jesus further warns us that if not rust and moth, we are likely to see thieves break in and steal what we have. Here He is speaking of the flawed human character. The idea that as humanity, we are fallen and flawed, therefore, we cannot expect systemic perfection.

At a very basic level, we cannot expect societal justice and fairness without external divine help. There are people who will exploit others for short-term gain. Whether cunningly or by force, these thieves will break in and steal what others have labored so hard to build. There are people who will lobby their power, not for service to others, but for destruction of others, their properties and securities.

We are seeing this break-in as Harvard-educated genius CEOs horn their stealing skills to make a quick buck only to be found out after impoverishing thousands. We are seeing this in public servants and politicians who luck integrity. They steal from the public by not paying their taxes. Our lack of internal self-governance, when let loose, results in the exploitation of those around us. So long as we are the inventors and managers of our systems, they will be flawed.

That is why we should take Jesus seriously. Taking Him seriously requires us to consider the short-livedness of our earthly investments. It sobers us up in our expectations regarding our returns. His is a call for us to have a loose hold on earthly possessions. His is a call to a looseness that allows you to rejoice whether in plenty or in scarcity.

Furthermore, when we expect and accept the inevitability of sudden disappearance of our earthly securities we will be wiser. We will place our most priced investments and possessions elsewhere. We will also take pre-emptive measures to protect ourselves from the despair, anxiety and excessive sadness that grips people at such times.

We will take steps that shield us from emotional collapse or from making irrational decisions that are driven by fear rather than faith. Most importantly, we will seek to know the true meaning of life and to invest our resources differently. We shall anchor our hearts with God.

Our current high levels of anxiety are symptomatic of our flawed expectations in worldly economic systems. When eighty percent of us are worried over the economic outlook, it speaks volumes about our invested confidence in these failed systems. There is a correlation between our high levels of economic anxiety and our expectations regarding the returns from the economic systems. It is a misplaced confidence that leads to immeasurable disappointment. Simply put, our anxiety reveals our idolatry.

Jesus' call in Matthew 6:19 is for us to expect rightly. There cannot be true redemption and a path to healthy living in this environment without an adjustment of our expectations. We should expect rightly regarding returns on our earthly investments. We should expect rightly regarding the functionality of our economic system. We should expect rightly regarding the integrity of those who are entrusted with safeguarding those investments. And we should expect rightly regarding our own integrity and trustworthiness in the process. Expecting rightly is part of the larger picture in redemptive living for now and for the future.

4 comments:

  1. Good post hunny!

    Ps. 118:8 It it better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.

    Ps. 146:3 Put not your trust in princes, [(i.e. Obama)] nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.

    Love you.

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  2. Thanks! I like the Scriptures you have quoted.

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  3. Simply put, our anxiety reveals our idolatry.

    Our anxiety can manifest itself as depression, domestic violence, turning to alcohol or drugs and such... All of which can be seen to stem from unrealistic expectations or in otherwords, inappropriate idolatry.

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  4. I absolutely concur with you. When our false expectations are not met, we become irrational and act in self-destructive ways including doing drugs, drinking excessive alcohol, sinking into depression and, yes, engaging in domestic violence. All these are evidences of our anxiety.

    One pastor friend has pointed out that two industries are likely to thrive during this time of economic hardship. One of those is the alcohol industry. People seeking escape from reality by over-indulging themselves with alcohol. Thankfully the other likely industry is the Church. I hope that as the communities of Christ we are the place for true comfort, love and repairation of our broken-down society. I pray that we find our true resilience with proper foundations here and not in the alcohol dens.

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