While the Bible does tell us that things will get much worse as the end times approach, it’s always tempting to try to take care of ourselves. If you’re saving for retirement or a rainy day, the folly of the geopolitical landscape may pique your interest in the news even if savings and interest rates do not. I mean, we’re saving for our end times here, right?! How does one protect one’s assets in a diversified portfolio when the whole earth is going down hill? Scripture gives us more than guiding principles, it give us wisdom of the principalities to come and some sound investment advice.
But let me digress for a moment. In chaotic times, one is tempted to move to safety. Sensible enough. If you see the destruction coming, shouldn’t you buy a bunker and stock up on canned goods? Shouldn’t you buy gold and silver, since the paper money will be worthless? Or should you put money in jars and bury them in strategic places in the back yard? Or will these be only like so many graves of an economy long gone? If the government keeps printing money, doesn’t that make the cash saved in the bank worth less and less? What about stocks? It’s a bit of a gamble, but at least stocks rise and fall in their own currency to buy, sell, or trade. What do the worldly smart guys do? Should you think more like George Soros and bet on currency devaluation and profit from the loss of others? But at least you will be okay, right? If I look at the patterns of this world, I think I can figure out a way to be okay — no, I am sure I can make a buck and feed my family even in this chaos. At least I think I’m sure.
I can read article after article on investment advice, but what happens if it is all chaos? If the governments fail and the companies can’t sell and the currencies don’t represent anything of value any longer. Will the paper the stock is printed on be worth anything? “Okay,” I can reason, “If it gets ‘bad’ — really bad — only tangible assets will have value, right?” Like in some apocalyptic movie in the theater, you have to fall back on your survival skills, a weapon, and some food. We will all drive around looking for food, shooting everything in sight — and fighting the zombies. (Don’t forget: guns don’t work on zombies, even with silver bullets, you have to use a baseball bat or something. . . Wait, zombies?)
If I don’t spend my time reading investment articles, indexing expiration dates on canned food and stockpiling ammunition to defend my pile of stuff, what should I be doing? Shouldn’t we do something? It’s pretty hard to ignore the instability in the world, and as far as I can tell its tracking with Biblical prophecy. (Knowledge increasing faster and faster [Dan 12:4]; the middle east is still the focus of the world [Zechariah 14:8]; Judgement on Damascus [Syria, Isaiah 17:1].) I can imagine a news crew reporting the events on the temple steps live to the entire world for three and a half days (Rev 11:9). You don’t even need to pay for cable TV today, just watch it on the internet. So as Christians, what are we to do? Rather than looking to Soros’ investment strategies or becoming a “Prepper,” what if we look to the Bible and men God has used before and see what they did, who they were and how God used them?
Dietrich Bonhoeffer is a good example, and Eric Metaxas’ book on him (Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet Spy) is excellent. When Bonhoeffer fled Nazi Germany to the safety of the United States, he found his spirit was restless — he felt God wanted him back in Germany in the midst of trouble. As he wrote to Reinhold Niebuhr:
I have come to the conclusion that I made a mistake in coming to America. I must live through this difficult period in our national history with the people of Germany. I will have no right to participate in the reconstruction of Christian life in Germany after the war if I do not share the trials of this time with my people… Christians in Germany will have to face the terrible alternative of either willing the defeat of their nation in order that Christian civilization may survive or willing the victory of their nation and thereby destroying civilization. I know which of these alternatives I must choose but I cannot make that choice from security.” He returned to Germany on the last scheduled steamer to cross the Atlantic.” — Dietrich Bonhoeffer, A Testament to Freedom
We can also look to Mother Teresa who founded the Missionaries of Charity (a Roman Catholic religious congregation) — which in 2012 consisted of over 4,500 sisters in 133 countries. They run hospices and homes for people with HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis; soup kitchens; children’s and family counselling programs; orphanages; and schools. By example, she has run towards trouble and not away. But who was she? How was she different than you? Where did she find the strength, wisdom, and compassion that you have not? I don’t think it was her investments strategies or her stockpile of gold that enabled her to humbly confront the suffering in this world, rather it was God. When the suffering spreads beyond its borders we will need more people actively living out Christ’s commandments and investing in the only currency that lasts: faith. What does God give and what does He accept? Cash? Deeds? Or faith, hope, and love?
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” —1 Corinthians 13:13 ESV
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” — 1 Corinthians 13:13 KJV
You don’t have to be a Dietrich Bonhoeffer or a Mother Teresa. I am sure they did not set out to be anything but God’s servants simply proclaiming and acting on the undeniable truth of Christ’s love and sacrifice to save mankind. On June 14, 2013, I received word from a brother in Christ that the Belarussian Government is again persecuting the Church in Minsk while pastor Slava Goncharenko is in intensive care. The congregation is fasting and praying for health of the pastor while they face the demand of Minsk city authorities to forfeit their church building (please keep them in prayer). This comes through a friend I know to have witnessed to the KGB during his interrogation and who humbly serves God and wants the best for his country and his fellow man.
This reminds me of Private Ivan Moisey who, during 1970 in the U.S.S.R. (at 18), was a Christian witness to his commanders, friends and officers. When Ivan was ordered to deny his faith in Christ, he refused. He was then ordered to stand outside his barracks in negative 13 degree temperatures, wearing his light summer uniform, until he reconsidered.
For the next twelve nights, Ivan continued to stand in the street outside his barracks. Miraculously, he did not freeze, nor did he beg for mercy. Ivan continued to speak about his faith to his comrades and officers. He sang about the glory of Jesus Christ in his barracks, though this was strictly prohibited. To those who threatened him, he replied, ‘A lark threatened with death for singing would still continue to sing. She can not renounce her nature. Neither can we Christians.'” –Excerpt from Jesus Freaks (1999)
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5 (ESV)
But our examples are not only historical — they were alive then and are living now. Examples of how we are to live in the modern world — whether you are in Syria or New York, Minsk or Los Angeles. There are many serving openly and are imprisoned for this today. (For the latest updates please see: The Voice of the Martyrs; Persecution.com; and Prisoneralert.com). Whether separated by location or time, Gods commission is the same.
In Romania, Pastor Wurmbrand was interrogated many times during his 14 years in prison. One of his interrogators, Lieutenant Grecu, questioned Pastor Wurmbrand about his activities with the underground church. Wurmbrand described Grecu as ‘a tough young man… indoctrinated with the belief that he was making a better world.’ After accusing Pastor Wurmbrand of lying about his contacts, Grecu ordered him to write out all the rules that Pastor broke in prison. Pastor Wurmbrand willingly sat at the table to write out his ‘declaration.’ It had been two years since he had held a pen, so it was difficult to write. He persisted in writing all the rules he had broken, ending his ‘confession’ with: ‘I have never spoken against the Communists. I am a disciple of Christ, who had given us love for our enemies. I understand them and pray for their conversion so that they will become my brothers in the Faith…’
When Grecu read the ‘declaration,’ he was overwhelmed that Pastor could write of his love for a government that had put him in prison and tortured him. Grecu said, ‘This is one of your Christian commandments that no one can keep.’ To that, Pastor lovingly responded: ‘It’s not a matter of keeping a commandment. When I became a Christian, it was as if I had been reborn, with a new character full of love. Just as only water can flow from a spring, so only love can come from a loving heart.’
Over time, Pastor had more opportunities to talk about Christ with Lieutenant Grecu. One day he had the wonderful privilege, in his own prison cell, to see Grecu come to Christ.” — From the Voice of the Martyrs, “Missions is Answered Prayer“
Sometimes our path does not involve torture or prison (thank God), but the heart of the Christian is the same. Our heart functions from a position of abundance not scarcity. Christians have a reason and a wisdom from God that the world cannot understand and will count as foolishness. It has been said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose” (cf. Luke 9:24). This is the quote that is most often attributed to Jim Elliot, (journal entry for October 28, 1949), but apparently it is very close to the English nonconformist preacher Philip Henry (1631–1696) who said, “He is no fool who parts with that which he cannot keep, when he is sure to be recompensed with that which he cannot lose.” How can I have such a heart, you may ask? From God himself. As Paul writes;
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” —Romans 12:1-2
So I am challenged by God’s word and the examples of God’s servants to reconsider my preparations for the future. But more than my preparations, my very focus. For if I am worried about the stock market or the instability in the world — the wars and possibility of disasters — am I worried about me, or thinking of the soles who do not yet know Jesus? My position in Heaven is secure and to strive only for my comfort — to forgo an outreach to my fellow man — seems a cruelty worse than the tortures (much less the inconveniences) I would seek to avoid. I must pray for the leaders in Government, but still not lose sight of the true source of all that is right and good — which is only from God. I must focus and support efforts to spread eternal salvation, rather than temporary aid without God’s eternal Word in the midst. I should be frugal — not for my own sake, but to, more wisely and generously, focus on guiding the resources and talents God has entrusted to me in order to support Gods missionaries spreading the Gospel here and around the world. While I have the ability to guide these funds, I should focus on the only investment that will last — growing a portfolio of faith and reaching others for Christ.
Please comment below to share your favorite charities and mission organizations that you know God is leading in effective ways to reach the world with His Salvation.