CHRISTIAN COMMENT: Giving against the odds

I’ll come straight out with it... I do not know how to save the euro.

There, said it. Now you know. I mean, so many people have been coming up with suggestions that I thought it should be at least possible to invent a new and, on the surface, plausible solution to this everlasting saga. But no – I really don’t know how this is going to end. I can’t even imagine it. After all, what does ‘financial meltdown’ look like?

What it has brought home is that all of our money represents trust. There isn’t anything tangible to back up my claim that I have, say, a thousand pounds. A thousand pounds of what? No, it’s just an indication that my value is believed to that level. That’s what ‘credit’ means. ‘Credibility’ – my ability to be believed. ‘Incredible’ – what you’d say if you didn’t believe my claims.

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So – banking comes down to trust. And, in the opinion of the big lenders of money, too many countries that use the euro to trade can no longer be trusted. Not trusted to be able to pay for what they spend. Black-listed.

What’s that got to do with ‘belief’ (as in ‘I believe God’)?

Well money’s a religion to many people. Lottery draws rank amongst the top ‘most watched’ programmes each week. And at the end of January ‘The Independent’ started an article: ‘A huge increase in gambling addicts will make Britain’s obsession with online betting a £2bn business.’ It’s a belief that one can - and should - always have more money.

Which, put very simply, is what led to the eurozone crisis in the first place.

And that makes the statement by the head of the Orthodox Church in Cyprus all the more encouraging. Speaking at the end of last week, Archbishop Chrysostomos ll said the church was prepared to mortgage its properties in order to contribute to saving the island’s struggling economy. OK, it’s not giving its property away for nothing – after all that wouldn’t raise the expected billions to help the Cypriot economy – but it’s going to be a costly exercise for the church. Great move.

Obviously we’ll have to see how things actually pan out but I just find it so encouraging that a large-scale church is prepared to give in this way. I know of lots of individual Christians and also some individual churches that have given sacrificially to help those in need. This is the first time there’s been an offer of the part of such a large group to mortgage its assets.

I hope they go through with it. Why? Well, I don’t want to see the economy of any country suffer but, more than that, I want to see how God then blesses the Orthodox Church as a result of their action. Paul reminds one group of Christians of something Jesus had said: ‘You get more blessing from giving than from getting.’ He’d found that to be true in his experience. So have I.

Just imagine if a whole church discovered that.

A whole country!

By Nigel O’Dwyer, who leads Goring New Life Church, and lives and works in Worthing.