No Fiscal Cliff in the Kingdom of God
As I ponder all the discussions about fiscal cliffs and the results of elections, it seems clear that many have their hope and trust in shaky things. From the beginning of God’s communication to His creation, He has challenged us over and over again not to put our trust in things that don’t last … like power and governments and money. These things are often called “idols” (i.e., false gods) but it seems that we only recognize them as “idols” when they don’t seem to come through for us. As long as they “deliver the goods”, we can be quite happy gaining our security, strength, and significance from them. God graciously challenges us to reconsider, not as some “law dictating deity” but as a God who is Father and cares that we relate to Him as the only one can deliver the goods. However, at times, He delivers them in packages different than we’d expect or even realize we want.
The reality is that we were never designed to find life in money or governments (whether a donkey or an elephant) or power or success. In Jeremiah 2, God likens this to digging a well that doesn’t hold water. It might for a moment but it keeps leaving us empty. In Psalm 20, the king writes that “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” The chariot and the horse were symbols of military strength and wealth. God told that kings of Israel not to accumulate horses. Why? Because, there would be the temptation to trust in those horse to protect them rather than the one, true God who alone is sovereign and good and holy and pure and loving. Consider the contrast, no mutual fund or retirement account has ever loved you. No amount of money has your best interests in mind. In subtle ways, we can make idols of anything.
The point is not that having retirement accounts is wrong but that my “way of life” is not threatened by its existence or lack. My wife of life is not threatened by which party wins the presidency and my way of life is not bolstered by who leads any government. My way of life (i.e., the way I approach and live life) is in the context of a loving, personal relationship with the God of the universe who leads me and satisfies me and strengthens me (Isaiah 58:11). There is nothing in this universe that can separate me from that and if I am relying upon money or a government to bolster my way of life, then perhaps those things have subtly taken the place of God and become idols. The worst economic and political environment from one perspective might be the best in terms of deepening and growing my relationship with God. The “best” environment might actually keep me from the one, true God.
Consider Romans 8:31-39 … “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
In light of this, if my goal in life is to live in the love of God, I have no worries.