Monday, March 30, 2009

Repenting [or, What Does it Mean that Jesus is King Amidst Financial Ruin?]

Last Thursday we were driving from Columbus to Toledo and I was considering what it meant that Jesus is King of all creation. Mind you, not that he is becoming King, or will be King when he comes back, but that he is King right now. For two and a half hours the sun seemed to remain fixed in the glorious golden position of early evening. Hues didn't change, but remained rich shades of gold and blue. Clouds were still. Shadows were long, yet translucent. Creation itself cried out, "He is risen! And he reigns!"

I considered what it meant that Jesus is King amidst the financial meltdown. Jesus is King, and our entire financial system is built on buying, selling, and betting on debt. Jesus is King, but our house is built on sand. What does this mean? How do you read this?

Some would say, "We ought to ask what Jesus would do if he were in charge of the markets." But he is King! So that question doesn't make any sense whatsoever. The real question is, "What is he going to do now that the markets are in ruins?" And, "How is he going to do this?" And, "Whom will he entrust with the task?"

The common human answer to solving large-scale problems (and even small-scale problems) is centralization and control. We tend to reduce decision-makers, centralize authority and power in one individual (or a small group of individuals), and try to bring everything under the control of a singular power structure. Exhibit A: The firing of GM's CEO by the President of the United States.

But there already is a singular authority, and his name is Jesus the King. (Not my King, or our King, or could-be-your King, but the King.) And yet, from what I understand about Jesus (which is very limited), he doesn't seem to care much for centralization or control. He pushes things back out to us. He entrusts us with the problems of the world. And not just to a select few, but to many of us--even to those who have not sworn their allegiance to him. 

But those who have sworn allegiance to Jesus have a special, mutually-acknowledged, relationship with him. It is as though we are the brothers and sisters of the King. In fact, this is precisely what the Bible says we are--sons of the living God (and because we are sons, we are also full heirs, which is true for both men and women), even as Jesus is the full and true Son of God.

So then, my question is for the Church. If Jesus is King (which he is), then what is your response (as confessors-of-allegiance to him) to the financial crisis? This financial house-of-cards has been built on greed and debt-dealing. What say you, Church? What say you, Evangelicals? Are you innocent? Have you pointed the way toward freedom and financial wholeness? Has yours been the voice that has spoken truth to the powerful forces of corrupted capitalism, greedy profiteers, and debt-dealers?

Woe is me, for I am a man with a maxed-out credit card, living among a people with maxed-out credit cards. I have bet on the future and lost. I have purchased non-essentials with money I don't have. I have dined in the lap of luxury while claiming poverty. I have eaten and drank, only to wake up the next day to find myself still breathing, and repeat the revelry again and again. I have paid money for that which does not satisfy, pressed down the guilt, and filled the emptiness with more spending. I have done this. The financial crisis is my fault. I am to blame.

I should have joyfully pointed the way for others. But I cannot. I should have stood up, with the moral authority of a life-well-lived, and said "Enough!" But I did not, and I cannot. I have not given full allegiance to Jesus the King. I have held from him Money. I have given my allegiance to Credit (a god some might call Mammon). I have withheld from myself no good thing, to my own moral and financial poverty. God forgive me. This crisis is on my hands.


Corey said...

Do you ever wonder how our faith would be impacted if we ACTUALLY NEEDED* God to meet our needs? Have a headache, we take aspirin. Hungry, we eat. Don't have money for food? Charge it. Bad credit? The government will provide for you. We don;t know poverty. We don;t know hunger. We don't know the un-sheltered danger of homelessness.
Thanks for the post.

*Of course we actually need Him, but we have sooo many other first-resorts.

Jarrett said...

Hey man, interesting post. I found your blog link because you posted on an article on Patrol Mag. Was just checking your blog out and saw that you had tried planting a church. I'm about to finish seminary and I'm planning on planting a church in Dayton, OH. Looks like you might be in the Ohio area as well. If so I'd be interested in trying to dialogue with you about your church planting experience. I think you can email me by clicking the link in my profile. I didn't see an email address to contact you at. Hit me up if you are interested in talking more.