Religion and Economics
Lord Jesus Christ, You are with me, before me, in me, and over me. You are my all in all.
Read Acts 19:23-41
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Store up your treasures in heaven…. Your heart will always be where your treasure is” (Matt. 6:20,21, CEV).
The spread of Christianity upsets vested religious and economic interests. Demetrius, shop steward of the guild of silversmiths, calls a meeting of his fellow workers to protest against the downturn in trade triggered by Paul’s preaching. At risk is a tidy profit from manufacturing and selling miniature silver niches containing an image of the goddess Artemis. On the grounds that the goddess was being blasphemed, the guild rouses the populace to stage an ugly-tempered demonstration in the city’s giant, 25,000-seat theatre.
“Greed is good,” says Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in the 1987 film Wall Street. Demetrius would agree. So also would the stock market speculators who brought on the 2007 banking crisis. So also would the purveyors of internet porn, drug and sexual traffickers, and the shady traders who sell counterfeit goods. They all pay scant regard to business ethics or the devastating effect of their products on consumers. But religion can moderate greed. The Chicago Tribune of June 22, 2008 reported the view of Zhao Xiao, a Chinese academic, that Christianity offers China a new “common moral foundation” capable of reducing corruption, narrowing the gap between rich and poor, promoting philanthropy and even preventing pollution.”
Unfortunately, sometimes Christians encourage greed rather than contain it. Large sections of the church preach a prosperity gospel, teaching that believers have a right to the blessing of wealth and can obtain it through faith and the “sowing of seeds” in the form of faithful payments of tithes and offerings. The impact “is pastorally damaging, spiritually unhealthy, and not only offers no lasting hope, but may even deflect from the message and means of eternal salvation” (Statement from The Lausanne Movement). Spiritualizing greed does not transform a vice into a virtue!
Success, money, and independence are some cultural idols. What others come to mind? How has your faith affected your relationship to these and other such idols?
Generous Lord, You have limitless resources and You are my provider. Help make me a good steward of what has been entrusted to me, and give me a generous heart.
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