Economics 101 & Public Square & Theology 101

Leaving Home Is an Opportunity to Learn Lessons about Faith and Economic Freedom

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Lately, I’ve spent a lot of time packing and unpacking, something I never thought I’d find myself doing.

It started when I studied abroad, then landed an internship in DC… and then a job. A dream for a girl who studied government and economics, but a little scary for a fourth generation Tampa native who calls her family her best friends.

Amidst the emotional transitions, I’ve been performing economic research, learning about arguments made for and against economic freedom. Considering critiques of capitalism is part of my role at IFWE, in order to help us think comprehensively about what truly inspires human flourishing.

Capitalism and Cultural Displacement

With my suitcases still half full, one critique stood out to me: capitalism, economic growth, and pursuing increased opportunities lead to isolation, a culture of displacement, and erode the feeling of home and community.

In this view, progress is destructive to culture; jobs uproot people and expand transactions beyond the personal level.

A number of factors influence cultural dissolution. That discussion is beyond the scope of this post. Instead, I’d like to focus on how my personal experience has been the opposite of isolation and displacement.

As someone who loves the comfort and sentiment of home, but felt called to work elsewhere, these critiques led me to ponder the meaning of biblical homecoming. Instead of being in the midst of a spiritual crisis that I expected, I was finding spiritual strength.

I’ve put myself through years of short-term living accommodations, and new experiences in foreign places. All of these changes taught me more about myself, and what it means to be part of God’s creation, than I ever could have imagined from my living room in Tampa.

Leaving Home Can Teach Lessons of Faith

I’ve learned that faith in God is a lifestyle. It is about finding your calling, taking risks, and doing your best to fulfill that calling.

Tim Hoerr, author of Risking It, is right when he says that taking risks is an expression of faith. Consider the parable of the talents: those who took a risk were the ones who received the master’s favor. Then there’s the  story of Peter’s doubt: the miracle of Peter walking on water only happened because he risked stepping out of the boat.

Leaving home to follow my calling has stripped me of conventional comfort, but has brought me to realize how amazing it is to truly take refuge in Christ as the ultimate home.

By leaving my comfort zone, I found a home in something more real and unwavering than earthly places. To me, this is homecoming: continuing to listen to God’s calling when you aren’t sure what’s going to happen next, but knowing that you have a home in him.

Despite missing family and not having settled in a space of my own until this month, I have never felt so “home.”

This is the kind of home that has nothing to do with my address, but with putting all my trust in God and what he has in store that I couldn’t have imagined before I surrendered to his plans.

Calling and the Possibilities Created by Capitalism

I wouldn’t change a thing about all that I’ve discovered by moving, but I’ll confess that a few tools eased the transition.

Text messaging and video chats allow me to talk to family and friends daily. Thanks to the innovations of air travel and other forms of transportation, I can get home quickly if I need to.

Capitalism hasn’t just expanded opportunities for me to live out my calling. It has provided the capabilities to stay emotionally connected to where I came from while pursuing where I’m going. It doesn’t always erode; sometimes it expands and allows us to touch and be touched by more of God’s creation.

Tumultuous, emotional, and just as exciting as it has been overwhelming, leaving home has led me to become more secure in a different kind of home: the faith that we will be guided to where we are needed to further God’s Kingdom, uncovering the deep comfort and truth that rests in Genesis 28:15: “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go.”

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  • Sid in Missouri

    Very nice article. One of the blessings of capitalism is it pushed us outside our comfort zones seeking new opportunities. I’m a student of history, and it’s amazing how far we’ve come in the last 350 years since Thomas Hobbs wrote in “The Leviathan” about how man’s life was “the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”. Certainly, the drive to innovate, change, develop new resources and grow (all hallmarks of capitalism) has moved many parts of the world away from the state of nature.

    I think where we get into conflict with the opponents of capitalism is they think the bad parts outweigh the good. Here at TIFW I’m sure everyone understands that no man-made system (capitalism included) is perfect due to our fallen nature, so we are left with the choice of taking the best of a group of imperfect choices. Those who oppose capitalism don’t have much to say when confronted with which system is better. One reason that Socialism, Marxism, Fascism, and Communism–although espousing noble philosophies–are doomed to fail is that they rest on the assumption that men are perfectly noble in and of themselves. Socialism would work great if all men were perfect. But they aren’t. Some are lazy, some are inept, some are driven, some are geniuses. Socialism assumes we’re all equal and therefore get an equal share of ‘the pie.’ How silly! Investors wouldn’t give a person who struggles with basic math $1,000,000 and expect that person to use it as productively as a brilliant entrepreneur like Steve Jobs. Capitalism, on the other hand, demands that wealth be used by the most productive people, and it gets cut off and allocated elsewhere when that doesn’t happen. It’s not a perfect system, but far better than others.

    We’ve seen how the former Soviet Union collapsed after their experiment with Communism. Everyone there was equal, but to quote Animal Farm, “some were more equal than others.” No motivation to improve one’s life and the life of one’s neighbor because that’s the government’s job.

    This is what I fear has happened to charitable giving: the US Govt has expanded the welfare state into so many aspects of life that many individuals on the giving and receiving side feel zero connection to the other people involved. For the “giver” the gift is reduced to the tax dollars that are automatically deducted from their paychecks along with dozens of other automatic deductions. Why give to the poor? Isn’t that the Govt’s job and what they take my taxes for? On the receiving side, why is there a need to be grateful to those whose money was given to them and to use it wisely? Wasn’t that “the Govt’s money”? Doesn’t some nebulous thing called the welfare state owe me what I’m “entitled to”? Why be grateful?

    Christ called on his people to be givers so that we are more like him and to receive blessing with thanksgiving in all circumstances. This disconnect in charitable giving on both sides must become a top priority for the church to address. We need it to be a mission to put the Govt out of business when it comes to charity and restore the close relationship that binds a giver to a receiver and truly eliminates the cycle of generational poverty the Govt has failed to address since LBJ’s “Great Society” opened up the war on poverty.

    Capitalism provides freedom for the individual to choose, and that personal choice is both a heavy responsibility and the greatest opportunity for the most people to be successful when compared to any other economic model. Not everyone will be successful, but the key is MORE people will be successful by deciding for themselves what is best rather than an elite segment of society trying to doll out resources and expectations.

    Thanks for sharing how your travels have pushed you into finding new ways to bring God’s love into the marketplace: both economically and philosophically.

  • Amarah

    This article is true! We have to follow the Lord’s calling for us. He is our home; we must learn to find comfort in Him. If all else is lost, will we be able to find peace, having only God to comfort us? We must learn to lay all of our troubles on Him and follow His divine plan for our lives. Also it is a process of maturing in Christ to be able to choose God’s plan. We may be very lonely in the world. We may even be discarded and rejected by people of this world. But God will carry us through and help us in fulfilling our purpose here on this earth.

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