When times get tight, it is easy to lose sight of the future.
It's easy to get caught up in the troubles of "right now" and miss the mission of our lives. That's why I'd like you to imagine with me for a moment - that there is no economic downturn, no budget shortfall, no out-of-control government, no sinking portfolios, no threats to peace or prosperity.
In that perfect world, what would our mission be?
I suppose we might have more resources to work with, maybe a little more confidence - but outside of that, really - the call of God upon each of us would be exactly, preciselythe same. In plenty or in want, the Great Commission would stand as the primary objective for every believer.
Don't miss it. Don't sacrifice your mission because you're worried about a dollar or two (or a thousand, million, trillion - what's the difference anymore?). Don't forfeit the next few years of your Christian purpose because you're playing a waiting game.
Take the other side: imagine that things go from bad to worse. Dictators around the world get nukes and use them. The U.S. economy collapses. Dollars lose their value. Taxes strangle us. Debt weighs us down. Fundamental liberties erode. Every "bad news" warning comes true.
At that time, what would our Christian mission be?
It'd be exactly, precisely the same.
Maybe the methods of accomplishing it would change, but guess what - the Great Commission would still stand as the primary objective for every believer. You would still have to share the life-changing truth of the Bible. All of us would.
I'm afraid that for fear of bad news, or because of day-to-day dollars and cents issues, we lose sight of why we are here.
Can the Great Commission vision be put on hold until finances turn around? Can the purpose of our lives wait a few months until we see the next income summary?
The church leadership team is reacting as best as we know how to properly steward God's resources, by cutting our budget and rethinking our priorities. But we must keep our hearts on the mission. Somehow in the book of Acts they turned the world upside down, and I have a feeling they were in worse "financial shape" than us.
Maybe we rely too much on money anyway, assuming we can just give a few dollars to fulfill the Great Commission. Maybe we've grown comfortable treating it as a hands-off investment. And now, without so many dollars to give, maybe we will start accomplishing the mission personally (which is more effective anyway, right?).
Pray about this quote, from a woman who made a dramatic difference in millions of children's lives, and whose ministry, Gospel Light Publications, still continues today (a ministry she started during the Great Depression in 1933):
"There is no magic in small plans. When I consider my ministry, I think of the world. Anything less than that would not be worthy of Christ, nor of His will for my life." -Henrietta C. Mears
I hope our plans aren't small. I hope we're still thinking of the world. I hope, and I pray, that whatever good or bad news headline our lives tomorrow, we stay on task. In eternity, that's all that will matter.