Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What We Deserve: Do You Really Want That?


Wonderful piece from The Shepherd Press:

What Do You Deserve?

The news this week is filled with outrage about bonuses paid to employees of the government-bailed-out insurance giant AIG. Every day we hear cries of unfairness, greed and shock. Even the President has said that he is stunned by these bonuses. We seem to be caught in an unending series of outrageous events. Have you noticed the underlying conviction that is driving the outrage? This conviction has to do with fairness and what we deserve. We don’t deserve to have out of control spending and increased taxes. We don’t deserve to have business executives who are greedy. We don’t deserve to have government leaders who are incompetent. We don’t deserve to have a bad economy and its resulting complications. And the list goes on and on.

How should Christians respond to all of this? We can certainly agree that things are economically challenging. We can agree that political leadership has been less than exemplary. We can agree that the housing markets have fallen. But do we really agree that all of this is not fair and that we deserve better? The solutions offered all appear to lie in the arena of government doing more or less. Some political persuasions want the government to be more involved. Others want the government to be less involved. But all seem to agree that things are not fair – we don't deserve this.

The economic problems that we face are the result of a people who functionally believe that God is not necessary anymore. Listen to the words of our political and business leaders. I have yet to hear any government leader or political pundit call for a national day of prayer and repentance as an appropriate response to the difficulties we now face. Repentance? What does repentance have to do with any of this?

When people think first of financial security and what they deserve, they automatically lose sight of God. If that seems too strong a statement, consider what Christ says about the rich fool in Luke 12:16-21:
And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.'
"Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." '
"But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?'
"This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God."
Notice carefully the thinking of the rich fool. He believes that his hard work has produced a rich harvest—one that will produce a life of ease for years to come. It is what he deserves. Perhaps he even plans to share some of his wealth with family and friends. The life that he deserves, the good life, is now within his grasp. But how does God respond?

God is concerned with building riches that go beyond the material. The rich fool reasoned that he was deserving of his good fortune. Sadly, this man's attitude is not unlike the attitude of our own culture. We believe the good life is for us. It is our right to take life easy, to eat, drink and be merry. The rich fool, like many today, thinks of only what he deserves.

However, do we want to join the mood of the world around us and start asking God to give us what we deserve? I think not. That is why I mentioned repentance. Collectively, our country has not been rich toward God. We have become preoccupied with the good life. But when we consider the holiness of God, crying out in repentance is in order, rather than clamoring for what we deserve. If Christians are to be salt and light, then we must distance ourselves from the demands for fairness and the insistence on what is due us. What we deserve is hell—but we have been the recipients of the mercy and grace of God lavished upon us (Ephesians 1:8).

Parents, these uncertain financial and political times provide an opportunity to show your children what true riches are. Do you delight in being rich towards God? The world says that responsibility is following the formula of the rich fool: work hard, get a good return, and take life easy. God says in Luke 12 that life is about more than this. Life is about building true riches, riches that are certain and will not take wings and vanish. What is fair? When you consider what is really fair, what you really deserve, you must immediately think of repentance, not gains in the stock market. Let us rejoice in the mercy of Christ that gives to us what we do not deserve.

(HT: What Do You Deserve?, Shepherd Press Newsletter, No. 45, March 20, 2009)

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