A Chill in the Air

November 16th, 2008 Posted in photo, writing

In this era of global warming, there’s a global chill in the soul thanks to our difficult and unpredictable economy. We wonder how long the economic downturn will last, but shouldn’t we also wonder how far the bonds that unite people can stretch before they begin to unravel? If we come to regard the welfare of our immediate families as the only real issue and that of others as none of our business, or, worse, consider other people as enemies in the competition for economic security, then the whole fabric of society will be at risk.

In these chilly times, economists and policy makers have important work to do. But we followers of Jesus have opportunities and responsibilities as well. We will have to explicitly re-assert the truth that, simply by virtue of being children of God, we are all connected to each other and that those who are hurt most and have the fewest resources for weathering the economic storms have a claim on us all.

We will also have to pay special attention to those who have, following the lead of American culture, based their self-esteem on material possessions and the positions of influence that come along with wealth. When the bankruptcy of those beliefs begins to show itself, then we need to be able to talk about a dignity that is God-given and has nothing to do with economic standing. And we need to do this not for the purpose of making converts, but to provide people a sound basis for living in hope.

To put it in a different way, if the gospel is really “good news,” then it has to be so not just for the fat years but for the lean as well. It is up to believing individuals and communities of faith to discover and articulate what the gospel means for these times — and thus bring some warmth to our cold days.

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