Sep 2, 2009

When Does an Idol Assume Deity?

As a pastor of a relatively large and diversified urban church reality forces me to address various “crisis” quandaries in which our congregation and members find themselves. The latest is, of course, the so-called “economic crisis.” It is crisis that began in earnest about a year ago and has affected virtually every person in our culture regardless of where he or she falls on the social/economic continuum.

One question we might focus on is how and what Christians might learn from this particular crisis. In fact, we can all learn at least one thing from all crises. That is we can learn whether or not, and to what degree, we as believers trust God. Whether our culture sets up a particular political agenda, a style of national security, or an economy as an object of worship, when these bits and pieces of false devotion crumble all is not lost. As believers we place our faith and hope in God who helps navigate us through all such calamities.

This latest “crisis” is merely an opportunity to share the gospel’s good news that nothing can “separate us from the love of God”—not even Bernie Madoff or Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. In fact, as people live in a panic state whipped up by a constant harangue concerning the state of the economy from television, newspaper, and other media outlets we can test our faith as we move along. This way of testing our faith as we go (is there any other kind?) reminds me of a title of Robert Quinn’s book: Building the Bridge As You Walk On It.

Talk about the state of the economy from television, newspaper, and other media outlets twenty-four hours a day provides the church an anxious and attentive audience it has lacked for some time. We can now address greed, speed, incompetence, and other “sins” that have created our crisis. As a church we can help people cope with their fretful angst and help them re-discover things of eternal value and meaning. I suggest that this is a rare teachable moment for people in our culture. We see crises each day, but the economic crisis is long-lasting and affects everyone. Therefore it offers us a singular prospect to edify in a redemptive way.

Maybe you can help me identify some very good hands-on-stories that illustrate our “idol making” tendency as a 21st century American culture. As we all know our economy only scratches the surface.

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