Today and tomorrow I will be at Birmingham Southern University, lecturing on the morality of free enterprise. As a Christian and economist, this is something I love to discuss. It is also a concept that has gotten lost in our culture.
Last week, I shared one of my favorite life-verses with you, Hebrews 12:1-2. Another one of my very favorite verses is Jeremiah 29:11:
For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’
This verse can pull me out of personal despair when I am undergoing a trial or feeling far from God. I keep going back to that message of my pastor: we have point of view, while God has View, with a capital “V.”
Even though we experience times of pain and sorrow, God has big plans for each of us, plans for hope and for a future. And while I think we as Christians can rejoice in this verse and see very powerfully how it applies to our personal lives, we may not see how it applies to God’s Kingdom in the here and now.
As Christians, we know that we are working in the Kingdom of Christ through our families, our churches and our work. God is building his kingdom, and uses us as the hands and feet of this enterprise. God wants us to build and live in a society characterized by freedom and abundance. That is what Jeremiah 29 is all about.
This chapter was written by the prophet Jeremiah to all the people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile in Babylon from Jerusalem. In the letter, Jeremiah talks about working for the peace and prosperity of the city. He tells the exiles that if the city flourishes because of the work of their hands, then they too will prosper.
This chapter recognizes the good in our contribution to the building of our society’s culture, and how that contribution comes through our work. Regardless of our calling, even if we are at home raising children, we are contributing to this mission.
That’s what free enterprise is all about. It means being free to choose your vocation, being free to understand your calling and pursue it with integrity. This is precisely how we are created – as unique individuals with a purposeful contribution to make.
There is inherent morality in free enterprise in that it provides us a greater opportunity to contribute to Christ’s Kingdom, in the here and now. We may not understand how we are making the contribution, but we are. We are serving others through our work.
For that reason we must prayerfully seek God’s will for our lives.
- Are we doing what He is calling us to do?
- Are we making the best contribution to our society and culture possible?
- Are we grounded in the promise that God wants hope and a future for us as his children?
Even the small things we do, the things that seem too small to matter, are part of God’s big plan.
I am reminded of that today and tomorrow as I talk to young people about the importance of work, doing their very best, and trading the fruits of their labor with others.
I am reminded of the big picture and how each of us is an important part of God’s overall plan. He wants prosperity and flourishing for all of us, but asks us to contribute to that flourishing through our calling he has given us. It’s a tall order, but one that allows us to contribute to the welfare of others, our cities, and our societies in an everlasting manner.
What do you think? How can you use your unique calling, gifts, and talents to work towards the flourishing of your community? Leave your comments here.