Christian Response to Globalization

CHRISTIAN RESPONSE TO GLOBALIZATION

 -Dr. Vivek A. Gundimi

Introduction:

When we deal with an issue as sensitive as this morning’s theme, we got to bear in mind that the more sensitive the subject, more definite the response. And the reason I say that is because when we get to the grips of sensitivity all our sanity are driven to respond to that which has provoked our senses in the very first place.

You see there is a link between what we sense and how we respond to what we sense. And basically when we deal with an issue such as ‘Globalization’, the response is compelled to be definite because we find no rest unless we are convinced with a suitable response to a sensitive issue.

Now it’s a very good thing to have a definite response in any given case. But it is even best when we refer to what the Bible affirms on the given subject matter; because the Bible begins to speak of the revelations of God when man starts struggling with his own thoughts.

And with that affirmation I address you this morning the Christian response to Globalization. And may I suggest, the Christian’s response is not a theory in practice but it is God’s revelation in action-penetration.

Our theme this morning is such that we cannot go to the spiritual aspect unless we deal with it foundationally first. So I will explain to you the concept of Globalization first and then correspond to what the Bible responds.

In our response to Globalization, it is necessary to understand that Globalization means different things to different people. To some it reflects the image of prosperity, rise in the income and the standard of living; whereas for others, Globalization reflects the expansion of greed in trade and industry where private owners control for private satisfaction.

But what does Globalization mean?  Globalization is “An attempt to see the world as One humankind, One Ecosystem in its interdependence to reach a life in dignity for all with a fair participation of everyone.” That was the objective of Globalization.

Now when you look back at the ideas of Globalization, they were propounded by the classical economists by the names of Adam Smith and David Ricardo. In their proposition they say that ‘free trade’ and ‘international specialization’ can bring profits for all trading partners everywhere.

E.g.:  If one country can produce cars cheaply and another country can produce computers, they specialize in their respective areas of strength and then exchange their surplus with each other, which will mean more cars and computers in both countries. That was what globalization was meant to be! To create a profitable situation for all trading partners!

But unfortunately on the flip side, Globalization excluded a vast majority of people living on the fringes of society. The free flow of capital and technology widened the inequality in incomes and wealth and aggregated the problem of poverty and unemployment. And the reason for that: is Free trade which was supposed to be a virtue did not necessarily mean fair trade. Because, goods exported by the poor countries are typically agricultural whose prices are volatile; whereas the goods exported by the rich countries are predominantly industrial which fetches relatively a higher price. Therefore, when trade was opened up, rich countries and rich people benefited. As a result, Globalization has made the poor poorer and the rich richer. Now that’s how globalization looks today!

 A year ago, The Planning Commission of India commented, ‘that poverty in India has increased in absolute terms.’ Can you imagine that? Where we see Millionaires popping up from India in the list of the wealthiest people of the world; yet the Planning Commission of India says, ‘poverty in India has increased in absolute terms’.

To a vast majority in the world, Globalization is a situation where people are reduced to a single model of economy, single model of culture and political system; Globalization today has a become a situation where people are dominated by few decision makers who induce people to prioritize only economic values. That’s just the opposite of what Globalization was meant to be.

Now when you examine the Scripture that was read to us this morning from the book of Daniel chapter 3, you can picturize how a group of Jewish individuals were being reduced to a single model of political and religious system; and they were induced to prioritize their worship to a 90 feet tall golden image. They were provoked to prioritize their respect and worship only to a numerical economic value.

A Jewish religious faith was under threat because of Nebuchadnezzar’s choice. Bear this in mind; Choices tend to coincide with the cultural expressions being promoted by the wealthy and the powerful.

The impact of Hollywood and pop stars have killed our young people of their own individuality, they have begun to imitate what they see because it’s the only thing thay are forced to see.

The choices that are taken in our companies, in our sectors where we work, in our Nation bears evidence to the fact that the choices that are promoted by the powerful in our society, most of the times happens to become a threat to our faith and our value system.

Nebuchadnezzar was trying to do exactly that. He was trying to reduce the dignity of humanity, he was manipulating human participation and he was attempting to destroy individuals with righteous principles. In his attempt to make his choice, he attempted to kill the choice of others: Very much how Globalization looks today in our economy, in our ethnicity, in our workplaces. Western symbols like Hollywood movies and pop stars have killed young people of their individuality because they have started to imitate their idols because that’s the only thing they are forced to see.

A story is told about a lady who was on her way to get eggs from the grocery, and upon arriving at the grocer’s shop she observed to her utter shock that the eggs were very very small, and so unhappy about it she said to the shop owner, “The eggs are too small.” So the Grocer said, “I know that madam and I’ve been observing this for a while, I think these farmers have become so impatient that they take these eggs off the nest too soon.”

In our markets today, we have learnt to convince people with manipulative language.

We are determined to sell anything at a very appealing price.

We guarantee limited happiness with Conditions apply!

When a globalized world reduces our dignity of humanity, when they manipulate with our participation, when they attempt to destroy the principles we carry, then how do we respond?

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego set a powerful challenge of their integrity to God in the midst of a threatening and tempting situation. Observe their context: if they failed to worship the golden image of Nebuchadnezzar, death awaited them in its (most) crudest form. And again if they fail to worship the golden image, they would lose their current post of leadership as administrators in Iraq. Those were the threats! They would lose their jobs, they would lose their lives!

On the other side, if they did worship the golden image of Nebuchadnezzar, they would have an opportunity to move up in their position of the kingdom. And moreover Daniel their leader was not there; he probably is travelling or had gone off to another part of the kingdom attending to the king’s business. Now, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego could have used that opportunity: the absence of Daniel, and bowed down in fear. Those were the temptations: Promotion in job and license to compromise.

But the most fascinating thing of that story is that they did not compromise their integrity to God even when the pressure was building up. That’s the truest form of integrity to God. Even when things were not going well for them they were determined to serve their God.

Their conviction was firm that Yahweh is the only God even if he saves them or not, they knew that whatever God does for them in either case was right, was best and perfect. Now, when we have that kind of a conviction in God, integrity to Him will obviously follow!

They were ten times wiser than all the wise men in Iraq (Dan. 1:20); they became administrators over Iraq (Dan 2:49) and they had good health (Dan 1:15) and favor. But they did not compromise their integrity to God even when they had to loose all of them. That’s powerful!

Integrity to God is the conviction we have that God will do the best for me no matter what the threat is! If Globalization has become a threat for you today, will you compromise your integrity to God out of fear? Would you choose to worship somebody else, something else? But on the other side, if Globalization has become a temptation for you, will you compromise your integrity to God for your benefit?

When the pressure of doing wrong in the society is mounting up on you, will your integrity stand tall? Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego established this very clearly that God will do the best for us no matter what the threat may be: Uncompromising integrity to God pays off well!

Therefore, don’t compromise your integrity to God either out of fear or for your benefit!

Now in the New Testament, Jesus brings a whole reformation to our thoughts in Luke 6: v 20 ff. Jesus is pronouncing blessing on the hungry and the poor! In a nation where riches were seen as a sign of God’s favor, Jesus invalidates their philosophy by pronouncing a theology of blessings on the hungry and the poor. And later in that section he goes on to say:

Woe to you, who are rich,

Woe to you, who are well fed now,

Woe to you who laugh now, and

Woe to you when men speak well of you

What did he mean by that? In the context of his teaching, He was affirming that if we are trying to find fulfillment only through riches, food, pleasure and status, then the only reward we will ever get in the end is: dissatisfaction!

He was basically saying that we should not seek comfort now at the expense of eternal life.

He is not against ‘wealth creation’, he’s not against being well fed and he is neither against  laughter and status; but rather his concern is –  if all these disillusions us of our eternity and eternal principles then we are walking on a very thin line. When we disregard eternal principles, when we disregard eternity to obtain riches, food, pleasure and status, then we are on a dangerous path.

In our Economics, are we responsible stewards in production and distribution of material goods?

In our Ecology, are we responsible in using, maintaining and renewing the natural resources of the earth at least under our jurisdiction?

In our Ecumenism are we responsible people of faith?

The words: ‘economics’, ‘ecology’ and ‘ecumenism’ are the elements of the Greek word ‘oikos’ which means ‘house, the house of God, earth as our common house’. With that perspective in mind, the oikos perspective, the earth as our common house, the house of God perspective, can we still play our games any further for our own satisfaction?

When we treat this earth as the house of God, a house for all God’s creation, a common house, then can games be played in ‘economics’, ‘ecology’ and ‘ecumenism’ for our satisfaction at the expense of forgetting others? That’s a question we need to answer ourselves and ask others as well!

Eternal principles cannot be broken for temporal satisfaction.

There was a story sometime back told about a man who usually went to the church and was in the habit of confessing his sins to the priest very often. So on one particular day, he goes to the priest and he says, “Forgive me for I have sinned”. So the priest asks him “when was your last confession?” “A month ago” said the man. And then the priest inquires him “what are your sins now?” the man says, “I brought peace to our quarrelling village.” Surprised the priest exclaims, “That’s not a sin! That’s a virtue. “Indeed” he says, “peacemakers like you are called sons of God.” The man then very hesitantly says, “Well, I can’t believe that applies to me”. By now the priest has become confused and mystified. And so with utter curiosity the priest asks him “how did you bring peace to your quarrelling village?” the man says, “I brought peace to my quarrelling village by killing everyone”.

You see what’s happened there, in reality he has done something evil, but in his superficial confession he’s still unable to escape his own lie!

It was not peace that he brought but rather satisfaction to himself at the expense of murder.

With all the threats and temptations of globalization, whichever ends you are at, either you are being threatened to compromise or tempted to play games, remember… Jesus affirms that: Eternal principles cannot be broken for temporal satisfaction. Always be willing to take life’s decisions from the perspective of eternity; because that’s the only thing that will matter in the end.

Globalization is an institution which does not abide by a constitution. It’s a principle without a personality. Its here today gone tomorrow! But eternal principles will stay for eternity, and may I remind you that it is by those principles we are judged for our own eternity.

Economists by the name of Robert J Barrow and Rachel Mc Cleary say that societies with high levels of belief in heaven and high levels of church attendance exhibit high rates of economic growth. That’s true where Christianity has played a major role in any nation, taking the recent case of South Korea’s economic success for example. South Koreans took a country that lay devastated by war in 1948 and they transformed it into a commercial and manufacturing powerhouse. Their lifestyle of prayer, the Christian religion in practice they say has become a factor in the South Korea’s economic growth for the last three decades.

When you abide by eternal principles, when you have a high level of belief system in heaven and its role in your life, then you will contribute to the economy you will not grab from it.

Finally, in the book of Revelation, John specifies that at the end of the earth’s age, God will triumph! He goes on to say that all who hold on to Jesus as their Lord will spend eternity in fellowship with God. God makes it very clear in Rev. 21:27 that nothing impure, nothing shameful nothing deceitful will ever enter the city of New Jerusalem which comes out of heaven, where God will rule with peace and justice. This is the message of eternal hope!

The New Jerusalem city according to the Bible is a perfect cube with stunning description. This new home with God defies even description. The city of New Jerusalem is not a figment of John’s imagination. In this new city there is no disappointment in any way. It’s a place of purity. And God’s presence will be everywhere in that city. That’s the future you have! And it is this future we are to share in the midst of globalization.

Globalization gives you the platform to share this message of eternal hope with the poor and the marginalized. Ironically, the message of eternal hope is more possible to communicate due to globalization itself. You use every opportunity to introduce God as the solution, God as the wisdom, God as the one who holds the vibes.

In our given platform we have the right to ask the world whether they would choose a sleazy motel or a heavenly mansion. Whether they would choose passion or freedom? Share the message of eternal hope in your time, in your place. It’s your obligated privilege.

In the aftereffects of Globalization, it seems many have been made innocent criminals, having become what they never dreamt, because they were made strangers in the only populated planet by the (most) friendly living beings.

It’s an international world where society is linked on social networks but detached from neighbors.

We are persuaded to upload our faces but not our hearts,

The world has time to tweet nonsense but no time to care for those in agony;

It’s a global world with a very local mind.

You see the problem is not globalization itself, but the way it is managed. The issue is not whether we should go for globalization or not but how do we distribute the fruits of globalization. And that’s where the thread has gone loose.

And in our response as Christians to Globalization if we:

  1. Hold on to our integrity to God in threats and in temptations
  2. If we do not break eternal principles for temporal satisfaction and
  3. And when we create a platform to share the message of eternal hope

We are indeed Christians responding to a hurting world preparing them for New Jerusalem, the city of God!

When the world tests our integrity

When they watch our principles

When they feel the hope we proclaim

Then they will indeed say, that they find Jesus in the darkest night, they find Jesus in the morning bright, they find Jesus in the face of those whose hearts are singing with the heavenly host! [1]

[1] Words taken from the song ‘I find Jesus’ by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Blue Grass Music.

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