Saturday, January 30, 2010

Of What I've Got

It has become increasingly obvious to me that we, as Christians, fall wildly short of everything we want, and claim to be. And it's not because we're bad people. It's not because we generically "suck" (though I am pretty sure we usually do). It's because we have no concept of the basic premise of economics. For those of us who weren't economics grads (and I don't blame you) economics is the study of the way we meet our unlimited wants with our limited resources. How does this translate to a spiritual world? How does this mesh with anything that has to do with Christianity? How does this work outside of "widgets" and elasticity? Jesus understood it - so should we.

So, a little more on economics, then we'll launch into this. The entire purpose of economics is figuring out what humans want, what it will take to give them what they want, and what it will cost. It's the soft science of meeting needs (starting to tip you off a bit yet?). The principles are real hard on a graph, but real easy if you common sense it. There is stuff out there, people want it, so depending on how much there is, and how much people want it (supply and demand, if you were wondering) a price (equilibrium) is found that keeps supply and demand in balance. At this point - the rest is elementary. The people with the most resources get the goods.

There you go - go take an economics class and tell me it ain't so :-p

Now lets zoom out, and look at this thing from 30,000 feet. We live in a world with full of people with desperate needs. They're trapped in poverty. They're starving. They live in Haiti. They need a friend. They've been abused. They're hurting. They need a place to stay. They need a hug. This world has way more than just the economic theory of unlimited wants - it's got the spiritual reality of unlimited needs.

But here is where Christianity differs from economics - at least in theory. In economics, the one with the resources gets the goods. In Christianity, the one with the resources gives the goods. According to the great commission - it's our job to meet those needs. Know Christ and make Him known. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. Our neighbors are hungry, broken, and afraid... and we're not - so lets get busy, shall we? That much we've all heard before. It's nothing overly new (2000 years old or so) but we don't do it. So firstly - be aware that we're blatantly missing out on the whole point of our existence more times than not. But beyond that, we are completely missing another piece to this puzzle.

When you watch the life of Christ, there is something that (from an economic stand point) should stand out to each and every one of us, but very few of us catch it. We feel we're doing well when we use our most plentiful resource to meet needs (be that money, emotions, time, service). Jesus perpetually used every potential resource he had available to him to further the gospel. The man had no money. He was constantly on the move. He was constantly connecting with people (which frankly, is exhausting). He had no home. Every single resource he had was used to meet the needs of other people. I'll be honest. I tend to be impressed with us as Christians when we use *one* of our resources to meet the needs of others. You see a very wealthy person giving to the poor and you say "yeah, that's awesome" And it is... but there's so much more. You see the person who connects, empathizes, and understands people out touching lives in small groups, or counseling with kids and we say "yeah, that's good" and it is... I think you get the point.

It's great that I go and use one or two of my talents or abilities to reach people, and to meet needs. But Christianity is so much more than that. It's about using everything we have to do something lasting - expand the kingdom of Christ. So be aware. Christianity goes beyond economics. We are not asked to give just out of our extra. We're called to give out of our being. We so often look at Christianity from the supply side - we meet needs that we can meet well naturally. Remember to look at it from the demand side - and meet needs whenever the opportunity arises. Use every resource - for no other reason than every resource was used for you.

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