Following Jesus during a downturn economy.

As we enter the month of June, and another potentially bad economic month, I hear more people asking the question, “When will the economy turn around?”.  Depending on who you listen too, some say we are on the up, others say stock up on the canned corn and soup because it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Obviously there is a bit of sarcasm in this, however 30 minutes of cable news or talk radio will largely confirm these opinions.

Four times this past week alone, I have had conversations with people asking me about the economy, about resources, about money. I am noticing (maybe your perception is different) that many Christ-followers are slowly being subdued by the onslaught of both real and speculative reports about “these difficult economic times”.  So, I felt like it was worth kicking this around for a time.

The Question I want to ask of you is this, “How should a Christian follow Jesus during difficult times”?

The Apostle Paul serves as a good example to answer this question.

Paul was undoubtedly faced with some of the worst life situations in the Bible. If you study his mission journeys you’ll find he was imprisoned, shipwrecked, struggled with having his personal needs supplied, and had people that wanted to take his life…frequently. And this is not an exhaustive list.

Paul was by no means perfect, however he was a faithful Christ-follower. In my opinion, second only to Jesus in the New Testament as far as Kingdom impact is concerned.

How was he able to do this?

The answer is found in the book of Colossians. Paul tells us that all people who choose to follow Jesus are given a new identity. In Christ, external circumstances, whether they are good or bad, no longer define us. Health can fade, 401k’s and IRAs are like shifting sand (as our current economy has taught us). So why would we even want to make these things the bedrock of our existence here on this Earth. 

During incredibly difficult times Paul rarely asks for his difficulties to be removed, nor is he overcome and subdued by them.  On the contrary we can see him asking for boldness and for strength to not only endure, but to remain faithful to Jesus and his mission through them. Because of this, we should not be surprised to see God using Paul in incredible ways. His desire to be Christ to his world is a heart attitude God chose to use and stands as an example for us today. 

As we think about the economy and the current state of affairs in our life lets take a moment to turn off whatever cable news network we prefer, tune out the talk radio personality you prefer to tell you what the next 6 months of life will look like in the economic sector, drop your investment portfolio, lay aside your foreclosure notice. These, as well as other forms of bad news are sand…not bedrock. 

Instead, take some time to examine the depths of your heart and ask yourself what is it that is driving who you are, and how you represent your Christ during these difficult times? Is it your circumstance or your Jesus?

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~ by Anthony Orzo on June 1, 2009.

11 Responses to “Following Jesus during a downturn economy.”

  1. This is so well written. I’m glad to see this point of view. We had a financial series not too long ago and I committed myself then to stop dwelling over financial matters and just live how Jesus would want us to. Not stressing about how the bills are going to get paid has taken such a burden off of me. And not surprisingly, the bills are getting paid on time and the Lord is providing for my family. Thanks Ant for sharing.

  2. Thanks for your kind words Dana. I hope this is an encouragement to both you and your faith.

  3. I like it. I think a lot of times we as Christians use the “easy pray out” asking for something to be removed, but sometimes we need to realize that God may be telling us something through struggles, telling us we need the lesson in the struggle more than the relief from the struggle. Which is kinda what you say in here. So I like it, ’tis good.

    • Very true Kirby. Jesus promised his followers that there was a cost, not ease associated with calling ourselves his people.

  4. Right on! I recently went on a mission trip and had 4 days without seeing or hearing any “news”. WOW! The economy was great! I had enough money to provide for my needs and the needs of my family. I didn’t know what the stock market was doing and really didn’t care. I spent 4 days concerned about only what Jesus wanted us to do with the Navajo people He sent us to! No downturn there!

    • Great perspective Joey. Often times if we remove ourselves from what is often a media feeding frenzy we are able to see things from a more grass roots perspective. I love your candor in reminding us that bad economy or not…Christians still have an incredible responsibility to their God and communities. Maybe even more so during difficult times.

  5. We are accustomed to allowing “status” inform our self-definition when circumstances seem favorable; therefore we try and do so when they are not. This is precisely when truth bubbles to the surface and we are confronted by the inadequacy of allowing our identity to be found in and/or dictated by anyone other than Jesus Christ. All the while abundance and the pleasure of God are ours to be enjoyed if we would just… let… go.

  6. When I was told I had to have a liver transplant – or die within a few months – I asked God if He would heal me and He did but not the way I expected. He said I would get through it but I would have to go through it. I did get through it and I have many stories surrounding that event about God’s provision and how He has used me to comfort and inform others about His perfectly designed experience for me.

  7. I turned off the national news immediately following the election results in November, and haven’t ventured back there since. The information age can create such a needless ‘groupthink-frenzy’ that takes the focus off of what is individually important. It seems that in this day and age, people only know how bad they’ve got it when the media TELLS them how bad they’ve got it. Ignorance is not bliss, but hysteria is not healthy, either.

  8. Ant.

    thought you might enjoy my buddy’s blog: reddotinaredstate.com.
    Check it out.

    I like what you got here so far. good stuff.

    lee

  9. Anthony,
    Very timely, as I have been out of a job for the last few weeks… BUT – God keeps providing in many different ways, and I have heard several stories from other Christian friends, some at our church, that have taught me of God’s provision. Every once in a while I worry, but God has shown me that I should not – HE will provide in His time…. We all need to remember that our time here is but a blip on the screen of our existence… Keep up the encouragement bro!
    Rog

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