By: Jim O'Brien
Does Christianity have a positive impact on the economy of a nation? If biblical teachings lay the foundation for a financially viable country, then national leaders ought to encourage citizens to embrace Judeo-Christian ethics. In fact, colleges and universities should require students to study the Bible to learn how to succeed—that is, if leaders have the interests of citizens in mind.
God promises to bless the nation that obeys him, but does that include financial blessings?
God told Israel through Moses, "If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees of the field their fruit. Your threshing will continue until grape harvest and the grape harvest will continue until planting, and you will eat all the food you want and live in safety in your land (Leviticus 26:2-5).
The economic blessings that are promised by God are undeniable. The larger question is whether a nation will believe the promises of God.
That isn’t all—God says, "You will still be eating last year's harvest when you will have to move it out to make room for the new" (verse 10). Ask a farmer if that will increase his income! But there’s more, "I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people" (verse 11).
What does it mean for God to actually dwell "among" a certain people?
Better health, better leaders, successful children, a booming economy? In fact, all those things are promised in the first few verses of Deuteronomy 28.
Which brings me to an economic seminar here in the U.S. that was attended by several Chinese economists. Stay with me, you’ll see the connection. After the American economists from Harvard completed their presentations, they were approached by the Chinese delegation. I was shocked by their questions. So were the American economists. The Chinese said they believed Christianity contributed to our national wealth. They wanted the Americans to help them understand the connection. Even more shocking—the American economists couldn’t answer them.
All this was reported in a speech given at Family Research Council in Washington D.C. by Dr. William Jeynes, a professor of education at California State University.
"China believes that Christianity is responsible for much of the historic success of Western Europe and the United States," said Dr. Jeynes, senior fellow of The Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, N.J. "But while the Chinese government is open to Christianity, it also ‘wants to control Christianity.’ Those in authority are very much aware of the Church’s role in bringing down the Berlin Wall and advancing democracy in the Soviet Bloc."
Did you catch that? They want to "control Christianity." These communist politicians sound very much like some leaders of organized churches in America. They have a fear of allowing the Holy Spirit to be in control. Does that sound shocking? The Pharisees during the 1st century of Christianity argued with Stephen, one of the early Christian martyrs. Following a heated debate Stephen was murdered for bluntly describing their sin, "You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always RESIST the Holy Spirit!" (Acts 7:51).
Some things never change. From the beginning of time to the 21st Century, men resist the Spirit of God. But leaders don’t stop with resistance—they are willing to murder those who obey God.
It’s no wonder that the Chinese see the connection between the entrepreneurial spirit of capitalism and the freedom essential to Christianity. They fear the very thing that makes capitalism thrive.
It is a fundamental truth that the flow of the Holy Spirit in a church is exactly parallel to the flow of capital in a free-market economy. That’s why Jesus used money as the most frequent metaphor for his parables.
Dr. Jeynes continued, "They view Christianity as a belief system that, if not controlled, will potentially overthrow the government," he said during his lecture titled, "God, China & Capitalism: Is Christianity in China the Key Ingredient for Economic Success?"
"But on the other [hand], they see that if you try to oppress Christians that it could lead to this explosion as it did in Eastern Europe and [they could] lose control that way. So they want Christianity for the benefits but they want to control it, and that is the balance they are currently, trying to achieve."
Ironic, isn’t it? China is an officially atheistic country, yet they see the U.S. benefitting from being Christian. It is Americans who seem blind to the source of our own blessings.
The world is still looking for a nation of people—or even a church—who actually believe the message Jesus brought to the earth.
Until next time,
Pastor, Church of God Cincinnati
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