Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Caesar, mammon, and all that

News outlets have inundated us with coverage of the current financial and economic woes of Wall Street and other world markets; it's beyond saturation level at this point. Personally, I'm not convinced that Ragnarok is just around the bend. In the midst of seeming global chaos and an uncertain economy, the Spirit of the living God speaks to us. God has not abandoned us; Jesus is still The Answer to the most vital questions of life. The world ponders the serious losses in the world markets this week, and the cries go out that doom approaches. Caesar preoccupies us all.

The truth is, however, that we who serve the one true Lord have already made decisions pertaining to loss, gain, and real security. The epistle lesson from this week's lectionary speaks to us loud and clear:

"...whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ - the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ - yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead." - Philippians 3:7-11 (TNIV)

This is not to suggest that we do not need to be in earnest prayer for our world and for all those who will be affected by the financial events of these trying days, particularly the poor; quite the opposite. What it should suggest is that those who number themselves among Jesus' disciples should not be so preoccupied with the doings of Wall Street or Congress that we forget that we have already surrendered everything to our Lord, and that our peace and security will never be found in mammon. Ever. Perhaps God is calling us to a new kind of faithfulness we have never considered, and would prefer to avoid. Perhaps this is an opportunity to refocus, reaffirm, and recommit.

I'm sure of this: if the Church had the same sense of urgency for making disciples that the media and politicians have for "fixing" the economy, we would have a very different Church and live in a very different world.

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