Thursday, April 19, 2012

Where is your treasure?

Below is a letter that I wrote to local Christian radio station after a comment made by one of morning show personalities.

I was listening to your station one morning and I heard a comment that you made about a man who built some kind of bomb shelter, possibly for the reason that he wanted to be safe in case of a nuclear attack or tornado or something.  To show that this man was not doing what is right, you quoted Matthew 6:19-21:

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

And you also may have quoted Matthew 6:25-29:

Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Well, I have a few verses of my own.  (I hope that you will bear with me because this is a long letter.)  But first, I want to explain that I am what you call a “prepper”.  I do not have a bomb shelter, and I am not planning on building one any time soon.  But as a “prepper”, I do believe in preparing myself in case that there is a disaster.  I do store food with a long shelf life, I have means of storing and purifying water, and I am working on obtaining alternative power sources.  And I don’t believe that there is anything wrong with this for the following reasons. 

It is most obvious that Jesus is not teaching that people should not take reasonable precautions.  Notice he uses the word “treasure” in Matthew 6:19-21.  In my book, necessities like food, clothing, and shelter are not treasures (i.e. luxuries).  You may ask, “But what about verses 25-29?  Don’t they teach that “prepping” is unwise?”  No it doesn’t for this simple reason:  I am not worrying about what is going to happen.  I know that God will take care of me no matter what.  But that doesn’t mean you should completely throw caution to the wind.  I know that God can destroy even the best bomb shelter. And He can save someone from mortal harm who takes no precautions at all.  I know such people.  I know God takes care of them.  Some are not able to “prep” because they can barely get by even day to day.  But those who “prep” can be blessing to those who don’t if something happens.  God doesn’t call everyone to do this.  Some people He chooses to live by the seat of their pants (e.g. Matthew 10:9).

Think about this in terms of other precautions like smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, first aid kits, and insurance policies of various kinds.  And what about saving money?  Is it wrong to have CDs, IRAs, 401Ks, saving accounts, annuities, stocks, bonds, or mutual funds?  Aren’t these also “stored treasures”? (See footnote below.)  When people do these things, it isn’t that they don’t trust God, they are just trying to be wise stewards of what God has given them just as many righteous people did in the Bible.  For example, Joseph took the precaution of storing lots of food in order to preserve the people from the forthcoming famine.  (See Genesis 41:28-36.)

“A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, But the simple pass on and are punished.”  Proverbs 22:3

So I think that your real problem with what this “bomb shelter” man is doing is one or more of the following:

  1. The measures that this man is taking are too extreme.  He is spending too much money on precautions which could be spent on advancing the Kingdom of God (i.e. evangelism, giving to the poor, and other ministries). 
  2. The threat that this man is preparing for is too remote to justify this amount of preparedness.
  3. The precautions would not succeed for very long (if at all) even if that type of disaster really did happen.
For reason number 1, I would say that that is up to God to judge.  As I indicated above, God uses different people for different purposes and just because what someone else is doing isn’t what God has called you to do, doesn’t mean that they are outside of God’s will.

For reason number 2, I would agree with you depending on the circumstances.  I blame the news media, politicians, and even some Christian preachers for using fear to drive people to such extremes.  The chances of Iran or any other nation hitting us with a nuclear weapon is zero.  This is just a case of people playing on your fears in order to promote the bottom line of the military-industrial complex.  It may also have to do with racism and hatred of Muslims. 

But on the other hand, if the reason for the underground bunker is a precaution against a tornado or hurricane, and if you live in area where such disasters are common, then I have no problem with it.

For reason number 3, again it depends on the circumstances.

Finally I would like to say that for me, preparedness isn’t just about surviving some impending disaster, but it’s about leverage and dependency.  There is nothing wrong with being dependent on God or the (local) church.  But the more you are dependent on the world, the more leverage the world has against you to cause you to stumble.  For example, if you have your own means of providing for your own healthcare needs instead of a health insurance policy or government program, then you don’t have to worry about your payments into the system being used for abortions or other sinful practices.  Your electric company may subsidize television programs which are not family friendly, so it’s better not to be absolutely dependent on them.  Think of it as keeping your options open so that you do not become a slave of evil.  I might even describe some people who unwilling to make the extra effort to divest themselves of the world in these ways as being lazy.  But I am not accusing any specific people because I also realize that not everyone is able to do these things.

Footnote:

All of the investments I mentioned are usually dependent on U.S. dollars.  This is legal tender that we have now in the U.S. and is called “Federal Reserve Notes”.  These are not backed by silver or gold as they once were.  They are subject to inflation and could be become worthless if the Federal Reserve Bank produces massive quantities of them, and it is in their power to do so.  This type of hyperinflation happened in Germany about 100 years ago.  People had to bring wheelbarrows full of cash to buy bread.  There is no reason to think that it can’t happen again in America.  If even gold (very stable element) can rust away and other tangible assets can likewise perish, how much more foolish is it to put your trust in “the full faith and credit of the United States” (mere pieces of paper with numbers printed on it!)

Respectfully,

Matthew Miller
Concerned Citizen

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I also feel God calls some of us to prepare for the unexpected because in the parable of the bird gathering seeds from the trees and fields.... we might be the very trees and fields ready to feed our neighbors as part of God's plan. There is a fine line in the term "prepping" in so much as that when such activity becomes hoarding... it is greed and might turn us from our path.