Am I the only one amazed by what appears to be the stunning speed of this economic meltdown?
Am I the only one amazed by what appears to be the stunning speed of this economic meltdown? It seems like years ago that we were collectively mourning the collapse of investment firm Bear Stearns—when in fact only seven months have passed since March 17, 2008. True, the home mortgage and foreclosure crisis was already under full steam in the summer of ’07, but in a post-Bear-Stearns world the dire headlines have exponentially accelerated! And in the unraveling process, we have witnessed an historic immersion and injection by not only our own government, but the governments of the world, into the marketplace of banking, investment and consumerism. And yet all the economic masters, wizards and talking heads notwithstanding, the national and global financial predicament only grows more dire. For every voice that whistles the cheery note that “this too shall pass,” there is a growing and anxious chorus of analysts that warns the worst is yet to come. So who’s right? And aren’t we better off simply going about our quiet, citizenly, Christian ways, letting the finance barons, economic professors and Wall Street moguls negotiate with the nation’s and world’s politicians for the eventual “fix” that will surely come? A century ago there was a little lady whose predictions at the time now seem amazingly prescient today. According to her, the exploding headlines that presage the return of Christ will be stunning in their speed. “Great changes are soon to take place in our world, and the final movements will be rapid ones” (9T 11). Would the overnight blitzing of our unfolding headlines of late qualify for “rapid ones?” Apparently, societal change in the closing chapter of earth’s history will be marked by its rapid flux. But what is even more startling is her observation two pages later of the economic conundrum that will face earth’s governments just before Christ returns. “There are not many, even among educators [read: economics professors like Paul Krugman, this year’s Nobel laureate for economics, who himself is unable to prescribe a “saving” economic response to this crisis] and statesmen [read: Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, President George Bush, senators Barack Obama, John McCain, et al], who comprehend the causes that underlie the present state of society. Those who hold the reins of government are not able to solve the problem[s] . . . They are struggling in vain to place business operations on a more secure basis” (13). “In vain” seems to be the subplot these days, doesn’t it? So how then shall we live, we who believe we are approaching the eve of Christ’s return? Business as usual? How dare we! What we expect of our government leaders we must demand of ourselves—steadfast vigilance and thoughtful, bold action. For the community of faith that means seizing the paradigm-shifting opportunities that this present crisis is providing to share the everlasting gospel of hope with those around us who despair the future. The return of Christ is the greatest hope this race has been given—energetically sharing that hope is the greatest mission this church has been entrusted. Given the accelerating speed of our headlines, surely we agree that this is the greatest opportunity of our lifetime to share the truth of Jesus with our world! “We must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4 TNIV).