Well, by now the recession has affected pretty much everyone it is going to effect. In southern California, that means almost everyone in one way or another. Churches aren’t exempt–in fact they were among the first to feel the pressure of the recession a few years ago, and many are seriously struggling.
Last Sunday the chairman of our elders gave a sort of state-of-the-congregation address to the church. He explained how God is doing some great things in our church, and we’re excited about what is ahead. At the same time, we are seriously under budget–and our budget is pretty bare-bones. We have some reserves, but as we approach our budget for next year, we are facing the reality that we may have to consider serious measures–like selling our property, or laying off staff.
Those are never fun things to say.
People in the congregation had different reactions. One guy came to me and said “you guys got me scared”. I think he wanted me to tell him there was no need to worry.
So, is there a need?
I think there is a time to be scared. To worry. But it isn’t necessarily when we think it is. So, when should we worry?
Well, it isn’t when circumstances are bad–or even insurmountable. God is bigger than circumstances. Any circumstances. The reserves we are relying on at NOCC were provided in an unexpected way by God. He can do that again if chooses to. He can provide jobs and bless businesses. He has the resources. That’s not a problem.
So when should we worry? I think we should worry when we decide not to follow the Lord. Part of our problem is the economy–lost jobs, failed businesses, etc. But that isn’t the whole story.
Part of our problem is some of us DO have the resources, but have simply decided not to use them.
Some are afraid.
Some think it is someone else’s problem.
Some are mad at God or are simply too selfish to give.
All of these are symptoms of one problem–the problem that should cause us to worry. They are symptoms of a lack of faith.
God is faithful. He always has been. He always will be. He is. We don’t need to wonder or worry about whether he will do what he has promised. We, on the other hand, are notoriously unfaithful (yes, “faithfulness” is part of “faith”). The problem is, God will let us be unfaithful.
When we are unfaithful, there are consequences. And God is too good a father to allow us to be unfaithful without experiencing the consequences. In other words, when we are unfaithful, we can’t expect God to “bail us out”.
The answer is not to hope God will somehow do something to bail us out. The answer is to repent, and be faithful. And if we refuse, then perhaps it is time to worry.