Athens sneezes, Berlin catches cold, the Euro is rushed to hospital and suddenly the world economy is on the brink. And now we're all asking, "What will happen to my job? Will my kids ever find employment? What about my savings? Is my money safe in that bank…?"
It's a great irony that the very soul of our materialistic culture is nothing more solid than an idea. After all, you can't eat gold if you're hungry. You can't get warm with silver – though I suppose if you had enough paper money to keep a fire going you might be all right. Money only works because we all agree to believe in it. It is no more than a promise. As that bank note in your pocket says, "I promise to pay the bearer on demand…"
So what follows when people stop keeping that promise? That's what is happening in the news right now. If Greek banks don't back up their promise to pay what they owe… If a corrupt world slides into massive, unpayable debt… if speculators invent sub prime investments to con a gullible public… if the greedy award themselves telephone number salaries while fleecing everyone else… Well, money itself is undermined. People don't trust the promise any more.
So beneath one abstract idea, money, there is another, more fundamental idea, which is the only thing that can make money work. Integrity. Without integrity the whole system falls down. Where oh where can we find people who will keep their promises, who are driven by concern for others instead of exploitation, who turn away from cheating and corruption?
Trust, integrity, honesty… Christian values arising from a God who is trustworthy. Without them the whole system starts to look like a house of cards. Or as Jesus puts it, "Don't set your heart on treasures on earth, where moth and rust corrupt, and thieves break in and steal. Set your heart on treasures above…" Where's your treasure today? In the faithless promises of bankers? or in the promises of God?
Anyway, next time you meet someone who says they only believe in things they can see and touch, find out if they really mean it. Point out that their money is no more than an idea and tell them to hand it all over. I think I know what the answer will be…