So much talk about the economy, but what is the economy? Is it just pounds and pence? Dollars and Euros and cents? The Cambridge dictionary defines it as:
the system of trade and industry by which the wealth of a country is made and used.
For convenience sake it is measured in monetary units, GDP etc. Money though has been inflated to the position of a god, all powerful, all knowing, all encompassing, it rules our lives or does it? Money has it’s uses, it is more convenient than bartering at the local shop with a sack of potatoes. Money though is beginning to lose it’s shine, the facade buckling under pressure as people start to ask with louder voices “Is this it? Is this all our lives are reduced to? Measured by the amount of money we earn?”
I have just spent the last four years studying firstly Development Management, as in the type of development of countries and communities and then more specifically Managing Sustainable Rural Development and through it all I have tried to imagine what can shape our economies differently. I have tried to imagine what Kingdom economics would look like. How would God define economy? I am not sure I am much nearer to the answer of that one, but I have discovered lots of different ideas where people have dared to try something different.
In Argentina after their financial crisis, some reasonably comfortably well-off middle class citizens were suddenly and bewilderingly plunged into poverty. How could these people manage? What could they do? Someone had the idea of setting up bartering communities with a local trading currency. This in many ways kept some people going and increased the use of the creative gifts, where people baked pies and cakes and were able to trade them for a hair cut, or a present for a family member, something they couldn’t usually do without normal government issued money. It helped kickstart some businesses and helped a distraught community get by (http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,199474,00.html).
Another idea, The Transition Network, started in of all places Totnes in Devon, looks at a world with less oil, imagining what that would look like (http://transitionculture.org/about). They also look at how to improve communities resilience to shocks. Although these ideas preceded the Occupy movement they are similar, people re-imagining what their world could look like with different priorities to the god money.
Kickstarting a new economy requires imagination. Can we imagine what the Kingdom economy would look like? Perhaps God’s economy could start with this?
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life ? …
Maybe the next step is Luke 10:7
……the worker deserves his wages.
Where it doesn’t just apply to pastors and preachers but the person who makes the t-shirt you’re wearing, the suit you wear, the food you eat, the hotel you stay in, in other words the products you buy or the services you use. Let your imagination soar and picture a world based on God economics not the world’s, based on justice not greed – then go and live it!