The following is intended to address those of us with anxieties of the future, in terms of following Christ, while spending the large majority of time and effort at “work” for an apparently secular cause, the benefit of a corporation, in a remarkably secular system. Regardless of your field of study or current stage in the college life cycle, this concern is relevant, as we are all here to prepare for life moving forward. This issue is addressed first at the broadest of levels, the system itself, and narrows to an individual relativity in conclusion. I would like to express these as a collection of my opinions and words of those far wiser than myself, but am open to any and all issues or conversations to follow.
Is Capitalism Godly?
You may be asking yourself if this question is worth the time and effort it will take to read the following paragraphs. You are also probably certain that it is a dumb question, as if we were to answer it with a “no” or even a vaguely negative stance, then it would stand to reason that most of the world’s economy, as well as the professions many of us are pursuing, are sinful or at the very least, Ungodly. The market that we are all affected by daily is built on the interest rate- the idea that a dollar today is worth more than the same dollar tomorrow because the person who wants that dollar wants it more today than they want it tomorrow. Is that moral? More importantly, is it Christ-Like? I don’t know, but I would like to discuss it’s implications.
To begin discussions on this matter, we must first examine reasonable alternatives. If our current economic state is displeasing to God, what would please Him? Is He indifferent to it entirely? If you are similar to me at all, you have been able to answer that last question with a “yes” your entire life by completely separating God from Money with a few distinct exceptions. Let’s reason that this assumption is false, as the market affects everything we interact with and everything we are looking towards.
Acts chapter 4 paints a clear picture of the early Christian community. “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.” That sounds like socialism. Now it should be noted that just because this is how the economy of a Godly community began, the bible is never exclusive to this as the only Godly form of a Market System. Although it is seemingly futile to discuss what a Godly Economy system looks like today, we have much to learn from the early followers of Christ and their perspective on money and individual roles. Paul writes in Philippians that we, as followers are to be like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. We should Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. How then, are we to enter a world, built on selfish ambition and interest rates, through taking advantage of those who are currently disadvantaged, as a follower of Christ who practices this in daily life? It would stand to reason that we have a better chance of following Christ through isolation and removal of ourselves from this system, than to attempt to be a Godly account, engineer, or analyst. This is what I find myself believing at times of true honesty and vulnerability.
C.S. Lewis addresses this doubt in vocation in Mere Christianity by overviewing the general process of following Christ. Christianity has not, and does not profess to have, a detailed political programme for applying ‘Do as you would be done by’ to a particular society at a particular moment. In other words, Jesus told us to love others as He would love them, but he doesn’t give a step-by-step manual sorted by time period, cultural assumptions, and industry. More illustriously, when it tells you to feed the hungry it does not give you a lesson in cookery. We each possess experience, education, tendencies, and abilities that vary to allow us to contribute to the Kingdom of God, even while dwelling in a temporary home. Diversity in these variables should be celebrated. We are to carry out the will of Christ by loving others in whatever capacity we are allowed and find ourselves passionate in. The only reference we have is to check if we are giving (of time, money, and resources) more than is comfortable to give. Christian engineers, accountants, and analysts are vital to the Kingdom, but only if they are prioritizing the Ends- Impacting and loving others to display and push towards the beauty of Christ over the Means- the vocation itself.