By Larry Short
I recently read a very interesting article in the Washington Post on the fear that causes us to “hunker down,” which in itself adds to the negative aspects of the economic cycle which afflicts us.
Because of a pessimistic sense of where our economy will be in the future, for instance, people might put off making a significant purchase such as a new car or home. Instead of sending their children to an expensive academic institution, they might opt for a less expensive public college or even delay education altogether and ask their child to flip burgers at MacDonald’s until the economy lightens up a bit.
Each of these things, of course, actually contributes to the negative cycle and makes it worse. Hunkering down has the opposite effect (corporately speaking) as the one we are hoping for.
This article made me think about my faith, and about how many of the same dynamics hold true. If I am feeling somewhat pessimistic about my life, my church, and my faith, I might have a tendency to “hunker down.” Rather than stretching myself in faith, to serve others, to take risks, to share Christ with my neighbor, to give more generously of my time and money, I have a tendency to clam up, to become more stingy, to focus my time and effort on things I think will benefit me personally, rather than others.
In faith, as in the economy, this may create a vicious cycle. People I fellowship with are more withdrawn and self-centered, so I might conclude “They don’t really care about me; they are just a bunch of hypocrites,” not realizing, of course, I myself am doing the very thing I accuse them of, and contributing to a vicious cycle of faithlessness.
I think the answer for us as Christians, in breaking this cycle, is the same as the answer for our economy. We must be willing to stretch, to have faith, to express our confidence through taking risks. We must open up, be vulnerable, reach out, share God’s love with others. It only takes a small group of faithful risk-takers (spiritually speaking) to get the steamroller rolling and to help create an environment of “spiritual recovery,” with God’s help.
So, I probably won’t go out anytime soon and buy a car, or a new house. (I don’t need one, anyway!) But I would ask you to pray for me as I seek to take some spiritual risks, to “give my life away” in ever larger ways, for the sake of a spiritual recovery in God’s Kingdom!