As Christians, how do we respond to financial and economic crises in the U.S. and the world? Here are a few thoughts based on Scripture.
First, while others may give in to panic, we needn't be afraid. True: Unemployment levels are disturbingly high and each day seems to bring additional announcements of layoffs. Also true: God is still God, able to sustain us through the darkest of times.
Psalm 46, important to Lutherans, begins with a bold statement of faith: "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult" (1-3).
In the intervening centuries, the God revealed to a chosen people, Israel, came into the world to extend and expand his rule of love over more than just a single people. In Jesus Christ, God offers forgiveness of sin and new and everlasting life to all who dare believe in him. Jesus has not rescinded his promise, "I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20). Remember that.
Second, what a great time this is to put our faith into action. Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) makes clear that God's command and call to love our neighbors is meant to be more than attitudes. Amid each day we can find practical ways to love others as God has loved us. A neighbor may need a ride to the local employment office. A single parent may need someone to watch her children while she goes to a job interview or attends a class to acquire a new skill. Local food banks may need donated nonperishable items and your volunteer time.
In this time of crisis, help whomever you can, whenever you can. That includes listening to those going through tough times and praying for others - the most significant and practical help you can offer.
Finally, don't underestimate what you can do, whether you're the one adversely affected by this crisis or the one trying to help others. God has given both churches and individual Christians more than they sometimes realize.
Mark 6:33-44 is one of four New Testament accounts of Jesus' feeding of the 5,000. Jesus told his disciples to feed the rudderless, hungry people around them, but they protested there wasn't enough money to buy food for everyone. Jesus told them to do an inventory. "How many loaves have you?" he asked. "Go and see." They reported back: "Five and two fish." Jesus then miraculously stretched these meager supplies into enough to feed everyone there - with plenty left over.
The point: Give God what you have and God will make more of it. If we want to love God and love neighbor and are willing to stand under Christ's authority and grace, God can use us to bring real help to our neighbors, whether their needs are spiritual, emotional, physical or financial.
The motto of Ohio, the state in which I live, a place hard-hit by current economic conditions, comes from words spoken by Jesus: "For God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26).
I believe that. You can too.
Check out this week's articles:
Come as you are: (right) For 60 years, this Iowa church has offered drive-in worship.
Of light and darkness and faith: 'God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night' (Genesis 1:5)
Visit our parenting blog
Parenting blogger Diana Dworin (right) blogs about swearing.
Tell us: 'Mixed' marriage
Decades ago, a Lutheran-Roman Catholic marriage didn't always meet with favor. But in an increasing number of ELCA congregations and for many Lutheran-Roman Catholic couples, times have changed. If you are Lutheran or Roman Catholic (or formerly a Catholic), tell us your experience.
1. What made you decide to make a Lutheran church your faith community? Or have you made another arrangement?
2. What about your church makes this the right fit for you as a family?
3. What has this adjustment meant for you, your spouse or anyone else in your family?
Respond with 300 words maximum to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, Aug. 10. Include your name (and your spouse) and the congregation/city/state where you worship.
Tell us: Bible verses that made a difference
What Bible verse made a difference in your life and why?
Please explain in 250 words or less. Include your name; the Scripture
(book, chapter and verse); your congregation (provide town and state);
and your e-mail address or phone number.
Send to: The Lutheran magazine, attn: Elizabeth Hunter, 8765 W. Higgins
Road, Chicago, IL 60631; e-mail: email@example.com.
Deadline: Sept. 1
This week on our blog:
Julie Sevig (right) blogs about the death of Walter Cronkite.
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