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Tuesday, August 16, 2011


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-Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.-Matthew 6: 19-21

 The country was rocked again these past two weeks by financial turmoil, and since it seems to happen so frequently these past few years, I can't decide what I am more tired of experiencing; the ups and downs of our national economy or the incessant blame game which accompanies these wild swings.  After the market plunged 600 points this past week, the blame game renewed itself in earnest, with the president blaming congress and vice-versa.  Who you blame probably depends largely on your preexisting political leanings.  But as I have reflected upon things over the past week, I believe I have a new culprit.  Me. And you.  And all of us who have voted in this country.  If we are upset about the debts of Washington we should not be the least bit surprised these debts exist considering we Americans who voted for these leaders have run up considerable debts of our own over the past 500 years.  In 1966, household debt, per the federal reserve, was 74% of household income.  Debt includes both personal debt, and a mortgage.  But get this, by 2007 household debt was 165% of the household income.  This was before the crash.  So is it any surprise that a large group of people who are fiscally irresponsible elected a bunch of people who are fiscally irresponsible?  Who is at fault again?

And what does this have to do with God?  A lot, actually.  Our values have been so shaped by the accumulation of wealth and goods, that our political drives have been skewed in that direction as well.  We want the biggest military, the best roads, the most magnificent schools, the best health care, secure retirement, and so on and so on.  The list of desires the American people expect their government to provide is nearly endless. 

 And why not?  At home we want the largest house, the best vacations, the greatest television, the fastest computers etc...   And if we have to mortgage our future to get them, then so what?  And where, in all this orgy of personal and national spending is God?  That's right. Nowhere. Neither at the personal level nor the national level have many of us been able to say enough.  I have enough.  We have enough.  The recognition that life is more than the endless accumulation and consumption of goods requires, in our culture, an act of faith, and few of us have been able to exercise faith in this way. 

Few of us have thought about placing our treasure in heaven.  Why put it there when I could have it in my living room or defending my national interests?  And so, as we have continued our futile quest for more; we have strayed from the God who teaches us that service to God, not accumulation and consumption, is the key to life.  And serving God completely, with passion, energy, enthusiasm and imagination, does not require more debt.  On the contrary, it offers grace.

Prayer:  Holy God, help me to place you at the center of my life, and to worship you with my life.  Help me to understand that more stuff will not make me happy, and help me to seek leaders who reflect my faith in you.  I pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

[Phillip Blackburn, First Presbyterian Church]

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