Friday, September 12, 2008

A Perspective on Gas Prices

Along with most other Americans, I've felt the pinch of rising fuel prices over the past year. It has affected my budget and caused me to second guess if I need to drive somewhere or whether I can combine errands in one trip. With hurricanes continuing to strike the gulf coast, it doesn't appear that relief will be coming anytime soon.

But even with prices as ridiculous as it may seem to me, it hasn't put me in dire straits. Even as a missionary with limited income, we still are doing okay. Even though it has affected us, we are managing. Fortunately, we are not among the millions of Americans that are at the poverty level.

But to listen to some that are much more well-off, they are having a difficult time getting by. There are many suburbanites that have been blessed enough to live very comfortable lifestyles. They live in homes much bigger than they need. They drive in newer model cars and trucks and SUV's that have all sorts of bells and whistles. They can afford to send their children to private schools, purchase season tickets for their favorite sports teams and take frequent vacations overseas and to Disney World. And somehow a four dollar tank of gas makes life unbearable.

I do not fault anyone that has worked hard, made smart financial decisions and invested wisely in order to provide financial stability for their family. I'm dependent upon individuals with means in order to be in ministry the way I am. So I have no problem with someone having money. But I do have a difficult time with those that complain about the gas prices when there are others that are legitimately struggling to make ends meet.

As with any other issue in society, Christians are not immune from the influences of the culture surrounding us. Many of us can become quite myopic when interpreting the world. Michael Spencer over at Jesus Shaped Spirituality offers some great thoughts about this whole topic of Christians and the present gas prices. You can read his whole post here, but here are some highlights from the article:
"Of course, one wonders if it ever occurred to anyone that the inconvenience to the American lifestyle of mobility and affluence is not really something that God would respond to as an act of mercy. Most Americans are inconvenienced by gas prices because of the value they place on mobility and the decisions they have made about the kind of life they want to live, decisions made with the assumption of cheap gas in the background."
"So somewhere a homeless man or a family struggling to put food on the table will see a group of middle class suburban Christians gathered around a gas pump, praying that God will have mercy and get things back to where we can all go about our business."
"Most people know this, and it appears that most American middle class evangelicals and many of their churches don’t know it. Jesus seems to be a spiritual guru, a success in life teacher, a ticket to heaven. He does not mind the economic decisions I make unless I invest in porn or abortion or Democratic candidates. He’s on the side of whatever it takes for our country to have it’s “way of life,” including $2 gas in mom’s Upward soccer delivery SUV."
Many times in my own life it has been when I am in financial need that my dependence upon God becomes much more real and true. When my needs are met, it is easy for me to look to myself as the provider instead of God. Hopefully, we can agree with the Apostle Paul when he said, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."

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