Transforming Trends

| MOSAIC June 2010

On a recent scenic road tour of the coastline of PEI, I was overwhelmed by the number of beautiful old church buildings on the island tucked away in almost every remote corner and turn of the road. Most of these churches were surrounded by graveyards, and I remembered hoping there was more life on the inside.  We stopped to take pictures and posted them immediately on Facebook so that our friends at home could share in our travels – that is until we hit the section of the island that both time and our internet provider forgot.

I realized with the lack of internet – even while on holidays – how influenced by our culture’s need to ‘stay connected’ I was.  For a moment, instead of enjoying and relaxing on our drive, I found myself frustrated by the lack of technology being able to reach me and my inability to reach the rest of the world. I had become captive to a cultural trend.

The need for technology is not the only cultural trend that can take hold of us. Statistics tell us that that Canadians are going deeper and deeper into debt.  At the end of 2009, Canadian household debt reached $1.41 trillion.  Instead of adjusting to the economic downturn and living within our incomes, Canadians are continuing to turn to debt in alarming rates. Even during more prosperous times when incomes when up 10 times over the last 20 years, debt increased to record levels and giving went down by about 50%. Perhaps this increased debt load is one of the main reason for the reduction of giving to churches and charities.

These trends are telling us that many – both inside and outside of the church – are in trouble.  People are looking for help.  They are looking for hope.  And there is much truth and grace in God’s Word that can help all of us. The question is, are we actually free to live the message of help and hope that we want to convey to our community?

Is it possible that Christians can be held captive by systems and philosophies about money that aren’t based on the truth of God’s word? I believe it is. But is there freedom from those things that hold us captive and limit our effective Christian living? Yes there is. And that freedom is found in submitting to the truth of God’s word and the leading of the Holy Spirit.

While the very culture we helped create is hard at work at trying to influence our financial behavior, God is quietly encouraging us not to be conformed to this world but rather to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.  We can do this only through understanding what the bible says about money and our relationship to it.

As we are transformed by the renewing of our minds, we recognize the cultural myths about money and can find the courage to stand against them.

As we are transformed in our hearts we find the motivation to change as we recognize our role not as an owner, but as a beloved steward of all God’s good gifts.

As we are transformed in our finances, we are freed from the bondage of debt and are able to use our resources to help others and participate in God’s work with all we have (our time, our abilities, our hospitality, and our finances).

As we are transformed into generous stewards, we will not only love and seek the kingdom of God first, but we will love our neighbours as ourselves. As we learn to love our neighbours as generously as we love ourselves, a new trend will take hold of our community.  It will be a trend that transcends the building or the technology. It will be the trend of people discovering who Jesus really is. It will be a trend that will build a new culture – His culture – His kingdom.