By Sir Dr. Enoch Iwueze
For us to proceed meaningfully, we shall first analyze the key words contained in the topic of discussion: “Christian”, “Economics” “Difficulties” and “Economic Difficulties”.
The word “Christian” is both an adjective and a noun. It is an adjective because it has to do with anything about Christ, such as His teaching, His way of life, etc. It is also a noun when it refers to one who does things like Christ and follows His way.
The name, “Christ” is a translation of an Ancient Greek word, “Christos” which means “Anointed” and a translation of the Hebrew word, “Messiah”, It is used as title for Jesus in the New Testament. Christ, generally, is treated as synonymous with Jesus of Nazareth. If you call Him “Christ”, “Jesus”, “Jesus Christ” or “Jesus of Nazareth” you are saying the same thing.
Let us understand what economics is. If, between 6 and 8 a.m. you stand at the balcony of an upstair that faces a major road junction, for instance, Ama J K in Owerri, you will see a great number of people from different directions, some of whom are strictly formal and businesslike; poorly clad or richly clad; obstinate or cheerful-looking, walking or driving post haste to different directions in front, behind and/or both sides like the endless going and coming of black ants. Some of these people are women going to the markets, nurses and doctors going to the hospitals, businessmen going to their offices, teachers going to their schools, pilots going to the airport, tailors and seamstresses going to their shops and a host of others. All of them have a common objective in mind, which is to earn income to satisfy their needs of food, clothing, shelter’ and, where the income permits, luxuries like televisions, cars, etc.
Economics, as a social science focuses on human being. According to Prof. Ejiogu, University of Lagos: 1996 – 98, Economics is the study of man in his efforts to make a living. It enquires how he gets his income and how he uses it and also attempts to explain the choices people make when faced with unlimited desires but limited abilities. This implies that we, as human beings, would like to have everything (good houses, cars, landed properties, big companies, etc.) but our means of getting these things is very little and cannot afford them all. In this situation, we must draw our scale of preference whereby we arrange all the things we need in their order of importance or priority to us. The item occupying number one position in the log is the one we go for first. If the money still remains, we go for the second one. As an economist, you do not start a project you cannot finish because the money will be tied down for nothing but if you invest it on what it can afford at that point in time, from the returns on the investment, you can start the next project. As one aspiring to progress, you do not start with private car first. Invest on what will be yielding you money. If the money is enough for a car with no adverse effect on your business, you can buy it while the business is still functioning. In this way, you can still maintain the car and even if it gets damaged, you take solace in your comprehensive insurance cover which will help you recover to a great extent the loss that has occurred as a result of the car being damaged or stolen.
Economics describes the factors that influence the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services. The ultimate goal of economics is to improve the living conditions of people in their everyday life. It focuses on the behaviour and interactions of economic agents and how economies work. In line with this focus, primary textbooks often distinguish between microeconomics and macroeconomics, Microeconomics examines the behaviour of basic elements in the economy, including individual agents and markets, their interactions, and the outcome of interactions. Individual agents may include, for example, households, firms, buyers, and sellers. Macroeconomics analyzes the entire economy (meaning aggregate production, consumption, savings, and investment of the nation, as when we talk of the Nigerian economy) and issues affecting it, including unemployment of resources (labour, capital and land), inflation, economic growth, and the public policies that address these issues (monetary and other policies). For shortness of time, I am not going to delve deep into the subject of economics, hence the need to switch to economic difficulties.
Difficulty means the state or quality of being difficult. For example, bad planning will lead to difficulty later; she got the door open with difficulty; we had no difficulty finding the address. We are presently living in difficult condition as a result of inflation caused by oil glut, devaluation of the currency, fuel scarcity, power outage, etc. Difficulty also means things one cannot do with ease or issues that give one problem. :
Economic difficulties, therefore, refer to long-term downturn in economic activities in a country or part of it. Economic activity means what one does, out of which one earns one’s living. It could be commercial driving, teaching, boxing, music, administrative job, etc. When we talk of economic difficulties we are also having in mind a time characterized by unemployment, fall in the availability of credit from the financial institutions (banks, mortgage institutions, etc.), shrinking output, as buyers no longer have adequate purchasing power and suppliers reduce production and investment; the resultant effect is poverty which gives room for insecurity, threat of insecurity, riot, strike, civil commotion and reduced amount of trade as well as highly volatile relative value fluctuation due to currency devaluation (as we are experiencing currently with our Naira). Price deflation (as is the case of sale of our crude oil now), financial crises and bank failures are as well common features of economic difficulties.
Having explained the key words in the talk, “Christian”, “Economics” “Difficulty” and “Economic difficulties” let us now look at who is a Christian in the actual sense of it and how he will survive in times of economic difficulties.
What Does the Bible Say About Who Is a Christian?
God’s Word is quite clear that one cannot just decide to be a Christian; one has to be invited! So what is, or who is a Christian? Countless number of people on earth today, more especially in our country, Nigeria claim to be Christians with churches by different names springing up like fungi being established but their beliefs, doctrines and practices vary widely. What does being a Christian mean? Let’s take a quick look at what the Bible says a Christian is.
Followers of Jesus Christ were first called “Christians” in Antioch (Acts 11:26) because they believed in Christ and followed His example. The word was initially used by their detractors in a derogatory sense, but believers embraced the term as a badge of honour.
While the first-century Christians strictly followed the teachings, practices and example of Jesus Christ at that time, since then the term has virtually lost its meaning—as it’s usually not accompanied by the same way of life and understanding. Today many claim to be Christians and yet don’t really follow Jesus’ teachings.
The example of Jesus Christ
The apostle, Paul also helps us understand what a Christian is by simply stating that we should imitate him as he imitated Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).
According to the Bible, a Christian is someone who responds to God’s calling, repents of his sins, is baptized, receives God’s Holy Spirit and lives as Jesus lived while God expects us to be loving examples to our families and others.
THE CHRISTIAN SURVIVAL IN TIMES’OF ECONOMIC DIFFICULTIES
The Christian will survive in times of economic difficulties by being a beneficiary of God’s promise to his true children. (Ps. 37: 18-19). “The Lord takes care of those who obey him, and the land will be theirs forever. They will not suffer when times are bad: they will have enough in time of famine.”
Also by showing mercy to others, a Christian can survive in times of economic difficulties. (Matt. 7:5) – “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.” The widow of Zarephath showed mercy to Prophet Elijah when she gave him water to drink and bread to eat during the time of drought in the land. From that day she lacked neither food nor oil throughout the period of the hardship. (1 Kings 17:8- 16).
In addition to what the Bible says, if we must survive in times of economic difficulties, we must be humble and do any genuine work through which we can earn income. A professor who has no job will not die if he opens a rice shop and makes money from sales to the public. It is not a sin if we do not get employed to do the exact job that matches the course we read in the school. If I am an accountant but the job of accounting is not available, in order to survive, I can do teaching, farming, trading and at the same time be searching for job. If a Christian is in difficulty and calls on God, He answers. It may not be exactly the way he expects. God works in a way we cannot understand. He may answer a prayer indirectly by inspiring someone either known or unknown to come to the aid of the person He has answered his/her prayer. One makes such prayers often at difficult times.
May God help us to overcome recurrent hardships and survive economic difficulties as we come across them, in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Thank you for listening.