Have you noticed that most of the contention about Christianity has sexual implications?
Would secular people have a different attitude about Christian influence in America if the topic didn't have something to do with sex?
If our opening topic with America was the economy, would we find more common ground?
I suspect we would. In truth, even though the left is moving away from Christian economic values in America, we still form the majority when it comes to money and business.
Click here to listen to a special invitation from Pastor Joe.
I will be collecting business cards and then leading a prayer for God's blessing upon the businesses represented. I invite you to participate if you are able. If you cannot attend, I would still like to pray for your business. Please email me a digital copy of your business card or send me your printed card USPS to:
Blessing of the Businesses
Cedar Park Church
16300 112th Ave. NE
Bothell, WA 98011
I suppose some might object to such a service because it makes too much of the material world. Others might object to such an emphasis particularly in this difficult economic climate. Consider the following:
Christianity believes in work and in its rewards.
This was in contrast to the Greco-Roman world which believed that labor was demeaning and meant only for slaves. Athens had five slaves for every free person. It was similar in the Roman world. Free citizens did not do labor.
The Lord labored and then rested.
Christianity was built on the Jewish way of thinking expressed in the Ten Commandments. For instance, in Exodus 20:8-11, it states, "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy."
If the Lord labored, then labor must be good. This idea is supported in Deuteronomy 24:15 where the laborer is said to deserve his wages. It is worth noting that labor and wages were connected. There was no wage without work. Getting paid should be related to working.
Property rights were upheld in the Ten Commandments when God said "You shall not steal."
That is, retaining your property was something which God endorsed at the highest levels. This certainly says the thief has no right to your property. It also affirms the right of a person to have and hold property. God is not unhappy when a person owns a house or property.
Upon such a foundation, Christianity added that labor was honorable. 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 "Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody."
Slaves worked with their hands but so did the Christian.
Indeed, Paul said you earned respect from others by your work and when you became independent of others. Little wonder a Christian America looked down upon dependence on government or anyone else. Work led to independence which led to respect from others. Conversely, to depend upon others is to lose respect. Such a view speaks to issues of welfare and government aid.
We should note that almsgiving was also seen
as the first act of the righteous life.
In another place, Paul said we should work so we could give to others. Bottom line, you could and should make something with your hands.
Jesus taught the parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:15-30
where he indicated that the profit motive was honorable and the basis of recognition from God. Jesus didn't endorse the idea that we should tax the successful person to give to the unsuccessful. Rather, he said the successful investor should be given even more. Tax policy should not be used to reverse the impact of what Jesus said. A "tax the rich" concept is fundamentally at odds with what Jesus taught in this passage.
These were important biblical ideas contributing to the rise of the Protestant work ethic. Combine the dignity of labor with serving God by labor, add the profit motive, and you have capitalism. Men like Martin Luther and John Calvin have made our lives pleasant by developing the Christian ideas that led to prosperity. Being able to live in a large house, and drive a nice car, and eat decent food owe a great deal to these Christian ideals and values.
Christianity juices these values with an additional idea.
Time has an end. Time is not circular. There is no reincarnation. It is appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgment. We are on a one-way journey through life and the clock is ticking. The ticking clock powerfully motivates us to get busy with the time we now have.
You put all these things together and you
can come to some conclusions.
Rabbi Lapin has observed "It's no accident that a capital market has never arisen indigenously in any non-Christian country."
Being blessed in business has multiple benefits.
You prosper and can support your family yourself. The work of God prospers since the church has no income when the people have no income. God's idea was a percentage. Further, the strength of our country depends on economic success.
In the above Blessing of the Businesses promotional card, I point to the origins of the phrase "In God We Trust" on our money. In the depths of the Civil War, Congress passed the Act of April 22, 1864 (read more), creating the two-cent coin with the words "In God We Trust." For the first time in our history we inscribed a powerful testimony on our money. The horrors of the civil war with its over 600,000 dead and devastating economic losses caused people to think differently about faith and their own lives. Isn't it ironic that while war was consuming the people and their wealth, the country was recognizing their dependence upon God?
The cost of the Civil War has been estimated to have been 1.5 times the Gross Domestic Product of the U.S. at the time. That would be comparable to $21 trillion dollars today. (2008 US GDP was $14.4 trillion). It is one thing to trust in God generally but quite another to put that phrase on our money. It remains a strong testimony for America.
This Sunday, January 17 (MP3), I will pray for God's blessing on every business. Business creates jobs. Jobs bless families. Just as in the Civil War they made the choice to express their trust in God quite publicly, I think we can do the same through a prayer service asking for God's blessings on the businesses. I hope you will consider joining us!
Yours for the Kingdom,
This concludes Part III of Pastor Joe Fuiten's series The Path Forward: Christianity in America. Click here to read Parts I & II of the series: The Path Forward: Christianity in America.