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October 26, 2006

The Divine Economy

...Making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time... Ephesians 1:9, 10

The economy is big news again. The Dow over 12,000, and another record day; the Fed maintaining interest rates, encouraging businesses and investors to keep the gears oiled, and the nation warming up for the annual holiday season of binge and splurge. Everybody wants to get in on the action, to improve their portfolios, get the cheapest rate, or just find the best sales they can while the getting's good. People are eager to find out the secrets of the economy and to maximize their involvement in it. Investment newsletters command huge annual subscription fees; business and technology expos crop up all over the country; infomercials, seminars, popular books, and online courses proliferate, seeking to garner a paying audience for their special insights into the mysterious workings of the economy.

Everybody knows it can't last. Sooner or later the economy will turn fickle. It will take our hard-earned cash, trustingly invested or saved, and throw it to the wind. Inventories will dry up; interest rates will skyrocket; consumer prices will rise inexorably; energy costs will spike; layoffs, cancelled plans, closures, bankruptcies -- nasty stuff, and certain, but who can know just when?

The American economy is an unpredictable force, even though cognoscenti confidently predict this or that development sooner or later, Delphic-like, just to make sure they can sell a book or a seat at a seminar when their predictions -- however they may spin them -- prove "true." Trying to get in step with this economy can be maddening. Just when you think you've got it figured out, it turns a corner, bolts down the alley, and leaves you wondering where it's headed next.

Not so the economy of God. Paul writes about a divine economy in Ephesians 1:10 -- a "plan", as the English Standard Version has it. But it's more than just a plan. It's a true economy -- the Greek word is oikonomia -- an administration, agenda, project, enterprise, dispensation. And we can know just where it's headed, how it operates, and where we can fit in to find the maximum benefit from what God is doing in the world.

To be concise: the divine economy involves God's calling into being a people who, as they come to faith in Jesus Christ, enter a process of sanctifying grace designed to help them grow together in holiness, blamelessness, and love (v. 4). Their purpose is to bring everything within the scope of their influence under the rule of King Jesus, the reign of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit which is the Kingdom of God (v. 10). Everything about them, all their possessions, every relationship, role, and responsibilty, all of culture and society -- all is being brought to Jesus for refitting, renewal, and restoration to original (pre-fall) condition. The result is that, increasingly, Jesus Christ is receiving all praise and honor, everywhere, all the time (v. 14). The engine of God's economy runs on the high-test fuel of His Spirit (v. 14), according to the revelation clearly explained in His Word (v. 9), in the hands of a people adopted as His own (v. 5), invested with His Spirit (v. 14), and determined to bring all honor and glory to Him. This is an economy that does not waver, does not flux. Each of us as a part in it -- work to do, blessings to reap, other people to enlist.

The American economy will always be fickle and unpredictable. But the divine economy is moving unchangeably and inexorably,toward a glorious culmination. Make your sincerest investment here, and you'll never regret it.

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