September 22, 2014
You’re Rich; why don’t you act like it?
This just out, from the Federal Reserve: the net worth of U.S. households hits an all-time high. The value of homes, stocks and other assets – minus debts and other liabilities – has climbed to $81.5 trillion; it’s never been higher.
Don’t schedule the party just yet: the economy is waiting for those households to spend some of it. The American Way of Life presumes consumption, and with two-thirds of the economy driven by consumers, wealth that is parked in passive reserves isn’t contributing to the monetary traffic that makes jobs and creates cash flow. What are we doing?
Consumer debt is climbing, but the report says that the most visible borrowing is for student loans. Credit cards and car loans are quietly following, but caution is in the air. We’re all rich, says the Fed; why aren’t we acting like it?
You don’t have to go much beyond the morning headlines to answer the question. College students missing; police shooters on the loose; prisoners breaking out of maximum security; chronic unemployment lingering beyond artificial “recovery;” ISIS/ISIL recruiting women to be brood mares to propagate the best run terror enterprise since North Korea; China doing joint naval exercises with Iran: why not have a party and celebrate our good fortune?
Numbers on a page – wealth that isn’t in your pocket – doesn’t inject hope into a fearful heart.
Someone will figure all of that out in time to construct a marketing campaign designed to put a new leader in the White House in 2016. Whether substantial or not, the longing for hearts that will harmonize with handbags will drive people to vote. Hope and change was a masterful motto: an Oval Office will be the prize for the next Champion who offers a feel-good solution. “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” is the historic question. The Federal Reserve says, “Yes;” can you feel it?
God wants you to be rich. That’s the offer embedded in the Prosperity Gospel movement. The Marriage of “American” and “Christian” has created consumers on spiritual steroids: just ask God for whatever you want – while sending a gift for the prayer cloth/holy water pitched on the program – and it’ll be yours. The testimonials from the faithful drive the desperate to the 800 number on the screen…
The God Who Owns it All has greater perspective than the Federal Reserve or the Prosperity Pitchmen. He says His holdings aren’t audited by the skeptics: “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!” (Romans 11:33). How mundane to measure money as the currency of Christ! The wisdom and knowledge surrounding Him is worth more than anything found in a vault in this world!
He knows that we’re living among the uninformed, and subject to the same emotional swings that affect the decisions and actions that aggregate to swing markets and topple governments. He wants us to have a better perspective: “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.” (Ephesians 1:18-21)
Computed wealth – down here – is like the tidal charts: up and down, based on forces beyond your control. But, inherited wealth – up there – is the ultimate stable reality: because we’re in the Royal Family (adopted through faith in Jesus Christ), we can live here with confidence that isn’t dependent on the Dow…