The nation’s financial crisis calls for a twofold response. One is pastoral; the other is moral.
First, I want my church members to know I am truly concerned about their losses, about their uncertainty and about their anxiety for the future.
We have retired people who are seeing their income drastically reduced. We have members who have invested their vocational lives in banks that have been recently bought or teeter on the brink of failure. We have builders, realtors and lenders who are stretched thin with housing inventory that can’t be sold in such a tight credit market and with large interest payments due. These people are frustrated, discouraged and embarrassed. They need a listening ear and a pastor that understands and cares about the dark days they experience.
Second, there is another side to the story. It is a wonderful time to turn our attention to the words of Christ in Matthew 6:19-20: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.”
If ever people can understand why Christ encouraged us to invest in “treasures in heaven” it is now. We are getting hard experience that the investments of the world can promise no lasting value. The words of Jesus can still our anxiety and help us to gain perspective. God cares for us and will meet our basic needs. The situation is serious, but most of us will continue to live with a wealth that greatly surpasses the overwhelming majority of the human family. Perhaps this is a week where we may be more in touch with the need to give sacrificially and generously to those in deep poverty.
This may be a time when large nest eggs, spacious homes, gas-guzzling vehicles, beach and mountain cottages, exotic vacations and other trappings of a material culture may be lost to some and rethought by others.
But, in this economic crisis the value of home and family, church and community may in fact be strengthened.
I believe the message of stewardship may be received well in this time of uncertainty. The church that offers authentic community, cares for the needs of others and exhibits a global conscience and missional action toward the world’s abject poor may seem the wisest of investments in these days when confidence wanes in the investments offered by our materialistic culture.
Jack Glasgow is pastor of Zebulon Baptist Church in Zebulon, N.C., and moderator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.