Friday, October 10, 2008

Where Are Your Treasures?

Well, it's been quite a week, hasn't it?
The Stock Market has been in an absolute free fall, and the "domino effect" has had financial markets plunging to new depths around the world. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has taken hit after hit every day this week, plunging from an average of over 14,000 just a few weeks ago, down to an eight year low of less than 8,000. The frightening thing is that no one seems to know where the bottom is.
The sub prime mortgage lending practices of "Fannie Mae" and "Freddie Mac" seem to have been the culprit in causing the dominoes to begin to fall. One thing led to another. The government sponsored lending corporations had to be bailed out as the chickens of their ridiculous lending practices finally began to come home to roost. Some huge investment banks were next, great brokerage houses began to fail or be swallowed up by other firms. The insurance giant, AIG, was on the verge of going belly up until the government came to the multi billion dollar rescue.
Just ten days (or so) ago, the august leadership of our House and Senate told us that the only hope for a market correction lay in the seven billion dollar "rescue" measure put forth by the President , the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. When the House voted down the measure, The Speaker of the House, her Democratic leadership team, and the mainline news media screamed gloom and doom. "Unless this measure passes" they warned us, "We are in for the most terrible financial crisis since the Crash of 1929." The Senate rushed to pass their own version of the bail out and sent it to the House. Conservative Talk Radio hosts warned against the huge bail out, and even though calls and emails to House members ran 3-1 against the package, the measure passed and was rushed to the President's desk for signature into law. The nation breathed a huge sigh of relief. The crisis surely was nearly over.
The next day, the Stock Market fell 500 points. The giant Charlotte based Wachovia Bank revealed they were on life support, and Washington Mutual (the nation's largest Savings and Loan went belly up. The market has plunged 500 points or so, each day since the "rescue package" was passed. There is a lot of finger pointing going on and this writer figures that there is plenty of blame to go around. Those of us whose 401k's and other retirement programs are are funded in the Stock Market have seen our funds drastically reduced. Many are beginning to panic, and the world financial markets seem to be in serious jeopardy. How are you reacting to the crisis? It all depends on where your treasures are.
All of us will feel the effect of this financial crisis, but none of us should really be surprised that it has happened. We live in a world where money is king. In civilized nations around the globe, greed has the upper hand. Life seems only to revolve around Euros, Dollars, Pounds, real estate, investments, and financial security. Yet nearly 2,000 years ago, we were warned by a miracle working teacher in an obscure corner of the world that life is more than money, possessions, and earthly investments. Jesus taught that while all those things are deemed to be important by most of us, they are, in fact, only temporal. Life's best investments are of the eternal value - those who go far beyond any earthly ability to be measured.
In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus advised His hearers in that day, and those of us who would read His words today:
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; "but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matt. 6: 19-21)
Financial experts often talk about periodic necessary "market corrections". Perhaps God is trying to get our attention with the current financial crisis, to make us understand our culture needs a course correction itself. While James Carville might tell us, "It's the economy, stupid!" Almighty God wants us to understand, "It's eternity, stupid!" THAT is what is important.
Critics might say, "Well, what will you do if you lose everything? Don't you think you should be worried about the financial crash? What if you lose everything you have worked for?"
Consider what Jesus went on to say, "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? "Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? "Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? "So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; "and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. "Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' "For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." (Matthew 6: 25-33)
Wow! Isn't that a refreshing viewpoint?
First focus on the Kingdom of God, and the earthly needs we have will be graciously supplied by a loving God. God said He would supply all our need, NOT all our greed.
Please understand that I'm not downplaying the seriousness of the global financial situation. I'm simply asking the questions:
Where is your focus?
Where are your treasures today?
Perhaps many of us may need a personal "market correction".

No comments: