"All the money we have—the money in our wallets and purses, in our checking accounts, the money that fuels the stock market—all money—is like Confederate money in 1863; it is still negotiable, but it is the currency of a doomed sovereignty. If we continue to invest in the doomed sovereignty, woe are we. But money still has a little shelf life, still has a little time left; so invest it, but this time invest it in God’s future, the world that, even now, is emerging by the grace and power of God."
Our pastor, Sam Miranda, in his own sermon last Sunday, quoted this statement by Thomas G. Long of the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta. The quote appears in several other places, according to a Google Search, but may have first appeared in a sermon Long delivered in 2006 entitled "Making Friends."
The quote brought several things to mind when I heard it last Sunday. The reference to Confederate money made me think of a story that came down from my father's family. He was born and raised near Atlanta. Generations before his included those who lived during the Civil War. Among those generations, the story goes, was a grandmother who owned a lot of farmland, most of which she sold to reinvest in Confederate War bonds. The result of that mistake was, if not to impoverish the generations that followed, to make things much more difficult.
The other thing it brought to mind was the principle to which that Long refers. To put one's wealth into God's Kingdom is a far better place than an investment that carries a high risk of declining in value. I am on the board of a private foundation where we are charged not only with keeping the principal of the enormous fund reasonably intact, but also of making annual contributions to charities actively involved in God's work. One of the other two board members holds that we should make relatively conservative annual distributions and preserve the funds for distribution when the person who established the foundation passes away, as that person directs. To my mind, there are needs right now to be addressed, needs that if not addressed now will be much more costly to remedy when the time for ultimate distribution occurs, assuming that there will still be an opportunity. So, there is quite a bit of tension on our board about this matter, tension that I believe is a positive and appropriate one for a board like ours.