Posts Tagged hope
We need to be careful when discussing the intersection of economics and religion, lest we improperly conflate the two or segregate them altogether.
One goal of this blog has been to push toward achieving and discovering the proper approach: to determine the real questions Christians should be asking and proceed to tackle them head on. Far too often our debased disposition gets the best of us and we approach such matters legalistically and/or materialistically, as if there is a sanctified list of dos and don’ts for general economic activity paired with Biblical prices, a God-ordained wage, and an easily discernable end-game equilibrium.
Such an approach impacts our entire view of value — both temporary and eternal — and in turn, is likely to distort our personal economic decisionmaking, our responses to basic economic activity, and our overall attitude and orientation toward the economic sphere at large. This is likely to also impact our view of God, whether directly or indirectly.
Our discussion needs to press toward a deeper tension, and in a recent piece at Cardus, Gideon Strauss lays forth the types of questions that will challenge us toward getting there. Although the piece is geared toward “business leaders” — the likes of which are certainly a relevant audience — the questions therein also apply to your average minimum-wage worker (or whoever else).
Indeed, if Christians did so much as simply struggle with these types of questions from the very beginnings of their work experiences, we could probably get more things right earlier (and probably get a lot more true “business leaders” overall). Our answers will surely bring disagreement, but I’ll leave that for other discussions. For now, I would simply submit that we be attentive to respond to each with a transformed mind.
To frame his approach, Strauss organizes the questions under three groupings, each of which center around human responses to God: questions inspired by wonder, heartbreak, and hope. These, Strauss says, “we may ask of a particular business or market, or a national economy, or perhaps even, of the global economic order.”
Here’s the rationale for each:
[#1] I believe that: The whole world of making products, providing services, buying and selling, building companies, establishing relationships of trade—marketplaces filled with businesses and their customers—can be a vibrant expression of what it means to be human in God’s wonderful creation.
[#2] At the same time, given the fractured state of this world, our economic lives are often a source of heartbreak: when poverty overwhelms us; when we cannot find work, or make payroll; when our businesses fail, or governments make it hard to do business; or, when we slavishly devote ourselves to the hunt of money and discover at the end of our pursuit that all we have does not matter.
[#3] And yet, part of the good news that crested over the horizon at Easter is that also this vital but broken part of our lives is a theatre of hope: despite the evil and suffering that can make human life a misery, the original promise of business activity and market relationships is being redeemed, and we can work with courage, lead with love, and expect our efforts to bear fruit of very long-lasting value. (emphasis mine)
Robert Randolph and the Family Band have been putting out great music for some time now, but in their most recent effort, We Walk This Road, the boys bring a bit of American-roots nostalgia into their typical breed of funk, blues, and gospel.
Randolph provides a pretty good glimpse in the following video:
The album is well worth purchasing, but aural elements aside, Randolph brings a refreshing perspective to the forefront of our thinking:
This time that we’re in — in a time of depression — a lot of people don’t know what’s up or down, don’t know where their finances are going, or where the world is going. We are here with this record to really uplift people’s spirits, as well as uplift our own selves.
With songs like “I Still Belong to Jesus,” when people don’t know where they fit in — some people have been disowned, some people have been picked on or whatever — this song is there to lift you up. Regardless of who you are, you still are a child of God.
Economic woe and social hardship are the overarching themes of the album, but unlike many of today’s pop artists, Randolph avoids generic solutions like love and peace and change. Instead, he reminds us that our only hope is in Jesus.
“Something saved me long ago,” Randolph sings, “How it happened Read the rest of this entry »
What do you do when God doesn’t show up the way you thought he would?
Whether it’s job loss, miscarriage, divorce, cancer, or any number of unfulfilled dreams, we all have situations in which we want to challenge God and say, “This isn’t what I had planned.”
When I started reading the book, I was expecting a layman’s spin on conventional suffering theology, but for the most part, Wilson doesn’t even go there. Instead, Plan B is more of a Bible-based manual for coping with unexpected situations than it is a complicated theology for understanding them.
When it comes to the coping component of the book, Wilson offers the following advice for times of crisis (and I summarize):
- Lean toward God. Don’t run from your situation.
- Give God room to work. Don’t pretend you have total control.
- Be ready and waiting for God’s signal. Don’t hesitate when God provides opportunities.
- Trust and fear the Lord. Don’t be paralyzed by earthly concerns.
- Base your faith on God’s identity. Don’t base it on His activity.
- Align your desires to God’s. Don’t be selfish.
- Find light in the darkness. Don’t forget that God can turn evil for good.
- Stay in close community. Don’t allow yourself to become isolated.
These points dominate most of the book, and Wilson backs each with examples from the Bible and his pastoral experiences. But he doesn’t completely end it there. He goes on to emphasize that even with our best efforts to navigate these situations effectively, many times we will Read the rest of this entry »