Relief from economic anxiety…

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Luke 6:20 Then he looked up at his disciples and said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now,
for you will be filled.
“Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
22 “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. 23 Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.
24 “But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.
25 “Woe to you who are full now,
for you will be hungry.
“Woe to you who are laughing now,
for you will mourn and weep.
26 “Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.”

Jesus offers blessings to the lowly (yours is the kingdom of God) and curses to the wealthy (for you will mourn and weep). Does Jesus have something against people who aren’t suffering in poverty? I don’t think so. I think Jesus is more reflecting on an unmistakable reality we see in the gospels. Here are a couple verses from Luke chapter 9:

23 Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it.”

Over and over the persons who most readily acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah and follow him are the poor, the sick, the widow, the ones from the wrong side of the tracks. Why? They have very little to lose by following Jesus. The wealthy, on the other hand, have much to lose and so often choose not to follow. They choose the blessings of this life over the blessings of the kingdom of God – which are eternal.

I personally believe one of the reasons Christianity struggles so much in the Western world is because the West is relatively prosperous. Even people considered “poor” here are fairly well off by global standards. But every once in a while something shakes our world and curiosity about faith grows among us.

I believe we’re in one of those seasons right now as we fight to contain a deadly virus, wrestle with a deep economic downturn, struggle to be free from the grip of racism in our country, and more. As the Church we are in a place to offer good news in the midst of bad news, not just among the poor but the rich as well. So what is that good news?

There are many examples, but here’s one impacting many, many people right now. As a baptized child of God I can depend on my heavenly Father for economic provision in uncertain times. He has my back, all the time. Apart from the Lord if I lose my job, or my spouse loses his/her job, or my business falters, then I get crushed as the full weight of that situation falls on my shoulders. But when I am in covenant relationship with God, when I return a tithe of my income (10%) to the Lord as a sign of my dependence on God, then I have hope. Why? Because my heavenly Father has promised to provide all I need (not all I want, but all I need). For the many who suffer from economic uncertainty, this is good news indeed. It’s possible to move from anxiety to peace.

I’m just curious here. Is this an area of struggle for you right now? Are you feeling the weight of economic uncertainty? Are you worried you’re headed for disaster if you don’t figure something out – and fast? You’re not alone. You’re not alone because there is One who is glad to take this burden from you. Today, as in RIGHT NOW, you can change that situation for the better. It’s true. You can invite the Lord to be your provider from here into eternity. Trust me when I tell you that it’s WAY BETTER than providing for yourself. You have very limited resources, but God has every resource under heaven at his disposal right now. Let’s pray.

Lord, this morning many of us are being made aware of our need of you, particularly in the area of finances and material provision. When things are as uncertain as they are right now, the anxiety and worry that comes with it can be unbearable. We can be crushed under its weight. And so we claim before you today our need of you in Jesus’ name. Give us grace to return a portion of what we have received from you as a sign of trust in you. And thank you in advance for your faithfulness in this and all things. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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