If economic catastrophe does come, will it be a time that draws Christians together to share every resource we have, or will it drive us apart to hide in our own basements or mountain retreats, guarding at gunpoint our private stores from others? If we faithfully use our assets for his kingdom now, rather than hoarding them, can't we trust our faithful God to provide for us then?
Sixteen of the thirty-eight parables of Jesus deal with money. One out of ten verses in the New Testament deals with that subject. Scripture offers about five hundred verses on prayer, fewer than five hundred on faith, and over two thousand on money. The believer's attitude toward money and possessions is determinative.
If we were to gain God's perspective, even for a moment, and were to look at the way we go through life accumulating and hoarding and displaying our things, we would have the same feelings of horror and pity that any sane person has when he views people in an asylum endlessly beating their heads against the wall.
Theologians talk about a prevenient grace that precedes grace itself and allows us to accept it. I think there must also be a prevenient courage that allows us to be brave - that is, to acknowledge that there is more beauty than our eyes can bear, that precious things have been put into our hands and to do nothing to honor them is to do great harm. And therefore, this courage allows us, as the old men said, to make ourselves useful. It allows us to be generous, which is another way of saying exactly the same thing.
Tolstoy said, 'The antagonism between life and conscience may be removed either by a change of life or by a change of conscience.' Many of us have elected to adjust our consciences rather than our lives. Our powers of rationalization are unlimited. They allow us to live in luxury and indifference while others, whom we could help if we chose to, starve and go to hell.
Some take pains to be biblical, but many [Christian financial teachers, writers, investment counselors, and seminar leaders] simply parrot their secular colleagues. Other than beginning and ending with prayer, mentioning Christ, and sprinkling in some Bible verses, there's no fundamental difference. They reinforce people's materialist attitudes and lifestyles. They suggest a variety of profitable plans in which people can spend or stockpile the bulk of their resources. In short, to borrow a term from Jesus, some Christian financial experts are helping people to be the most successful 'rich fools' they can be.
I feel like a child who has found a wonderful trail in the woods. Countless others have gone before and blazed the trail, but to the child it's as new and fresh as if it had never been walked before. The child is invariably anxious for others to join in the great adventure. It's something that can only be understood by actual experience. Those who've begun the journey, and certainly those who've gone further than I, will readily understand what I am saying.