What is the top issue facing Christians in America? That is an important question, one that should give every thoughtful believer pause to reflect. Recently this question was posed to some leaders in the Christian community and the responses are predictable from one perspective, but surprising in another sense.
An informal survey of the board members of the National Association of Evangelicals showed the economy was the concern of many. Over forty different denominations and more than 45,000 churches and religious organizations are represented by the NAE. The overriding issue for many NAE board members seems to be the national economy and our country’s debt.
Head of the Family Research Council Tony Perkins said “social issues are intertwined with the fiscal issues.” He thinks “we have neglected and in many ways discourage family formation, and that core economic foundation, which is the family.” President of Standing Together Greg Johnson says our number one priority is to “honor God as a nation” and “second, we need to tackle our debt as a nation.” Penny Nance speaking for Concerned Women for America claims “Women care deeply about economic issues’ and believes presidential hopefuls do not adequately address the concerns of female voters on economic security.
I am well aware of the financial difficulties these leaders have commented on. The church I pastor experienced an approximate twenty-nine percent reduction in tithes and offerings from 2010 to this past year 2011. While a host of circumstances bear on this loss of revenue, I believe the reduction of income is a direct reflection of the dire financial straits my flock is facing. I am concerned about the ongoing recession and how it is affecting my church family. These are hard times.
Considering what many Christian leaders are saying, and my experience as a pastor, and even in my own personal circumstances during this recession, it would seem reasonable to conclude that the economy should be our number one concern. But I was reminded of something Billy Graham said in an interview with Christianity Today just over a year ago. He was asked, what are the most important issues facing evangelicals today? Graham responded, “The central issues of our time aren’t economic [emphasis mine] or political or social, important as these are. The central issues of our time are moral and spiritual in nature, and our calling is to declare Christ’s forgiveness and hope and transforming power to a world that does not know him or follow him.”
I agree with Billy Graham. The economy should not be the focus of our attention. While the economic downturn is a concern, for the Christian it is nothing more than a distraction and is not our chief care. God promised Joshua “Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you (Joshua 1:5).” God has called the Church to “make disciples of all the nations.” I am convinced that if the Church will give itself to fulfilling its biblical mandate, God will give Himself to its provision.
Granted, as a nation and as individuals we have been in the habit of spending more than we make and those practices have gotten us where we are today as a nation. We need to repent of our deeds and give ourselves to a life of financial responsibility. If we are faithful to confess our sins God has promised He will forgive us.
Economists are saying we are recovering from the recession, but last year was a hard one. I can ride through town and point to one business after another that has folded shop and closed its doors. But despite the financial hardships, our church doors are still open for business, the business of God.
As rick Warren said in the Purpose Driven Life, “It’s not about you.” We were created to do God’s will not pursue our own desires. Christians need to work together more than ever before to fulfill the Great Commission. If we “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” we will have all we need to do all He wants.