No matter who you are, the governor’s executive order has placed each one of us in a difficult position. For some, there are some incredible blessings to this season. But for many others in our community, they are deeply impacted by this order. I want to highlight just a few of those who have a less than positive view on this order, and for good reason.
Some restaurant workers have lost their jobs in this season as restaurants who were already operating on a thin profit margin closed their doors permanently. Other servers, baristas, and cooks have been able to stay employed with carry-out and delivery orders, but the profits have been deeply gouged.
Used car dealerships are closing, either because they are disallowed from selling or because they cannot get inventory. The tourism industry is shuttered in this season, and many who have built a livelihood on travelers coming to Colorado are looking for ways to make deep cuts in their budgets – especially if this order extends into May. Cigar shops are closing while the liquor stores are making more money than they have in years! Car rentals have plummeted, and marijuana sales are sky-rocketing – interesting what is considered essential. Is our culture’s worship defined by what we define as essential?
This doesn’t even address the addicts, the alcoholics, and abused. Isolation is not good for these individuals and those around them. Crime is down in most sectors, except for domestic disturbances and domestic violence – it is going through the roof. Some of our most vulnerable neighbors are at risk, not from the virus, but from those they live with. Teachers struggle to create engaging activities for their students while trying to manage their own child’s assignments.
Attempting to curb some of these issues, (I have only listed a few), the government has thrown money at the taxpayers. If you have lost income during this season, this could serve as a lifeline to feed you and your family. Banks are allowing interest-only payments on loans, and some landlords are offering to reduce rent in order to help their tenants remain ethical.
We are seeing a “new” problem arise among the middle class – online shopping. With social distancing principles being strongly encouraged around our state, many have turned to behaviors that are not in the best interest of their finances. Many try to address their boredom and stress by shopping. This is a normal behavioral response when we feel like things are out of our control. It is not necessarily healthy. Some are shopping to hoard goods in preparation for a doomsday scenario. Some are shopping just to fill the days of doldrum. Some are shopping to escape. Isn’t there a healthier way to cope?
Have you been watching your bank account or mailbox for the stimulus check from the government – not because you need it to feed your loved ones? Let’s be honest, we are watching for it so that we can spend it on a piece of furniture, a TV that is bigger and brighter, or a new toy/tablet/tool that we’ve always wanted. Or, we are hoping to get it before our bill for those things we have already bought arrives!
I suggest that we use all money for worship. The question is, “What are you going to worship with your government stimulus check?” I am NOT asking you to send your stimulus check to the church. I am asking you to be intentional with your check. Choose to worship God by how you spend, give, or invest your money. Buying more food via delivery is not necessarily worship of God, but it could be. I suppose replacing your couch could be worship of God, but is that what you should be doing? Is buying a new TV to binge-watch your favorite show in 4K, worshiping God? Keeping a local business open is not necessarily useful for building the Kingdom of God, but it could be.
Jesus said a great deal about money. Possibly His most famous teaching about money indicates that your heart follows your money – choose where you want your heart to be. Jesus also said that I should LOVE God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength – how I use my money clearly defines what I love and worship. It can also reveal where we look for strength when we feel weak, vulnerable, or at risk.
I hope that you take time to wrestle with these questions this week as money shows up in your bank account or mailbox. What will you choose to worship in this season of staying at home? How will you use your money for building the Kingdom of God instead of expanding your own empire?