November 19, 2014| 0

Reality Check (Deuteronomy 30:15–20)

15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. 16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 17 But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, 20 loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”

Last week five of the world’s biggest banks were fined $4.25 billion for currency-rigging.[1] Their crime was nothing new, just an old-fashioned scheme of collusion to defraud other buyers and sellers. To put it simply, a few currency traders cheated to make some easy money.

I can imagine those traders getting the same kind of thrill as though they were playing a game of fantasy football and winning big. In this case, however, instead of gambling with their own money, they were playing with other people’s money; and instead of a level playing field where everyone had a fair advantage, they created an artificial playing field on which only they could win. In effect, they had created a reality where the laws of nature were under their control. They became as gods in the new virtual reality of the foreign currency market.

God has given each of us the freedom to make a similar choice. We can ignore his commandments and create make-believe worlds in which we delude ourselves into thinking we can make up our own rules and behave as though our power exists solely for the sake of getting what we want. Or we can choose to play by God’s rules.

These are life or death choices. One leads to death in an artificial wasteland of our own creation; the other leads to life for ourselves, our children, and our children’s children. The choice is always before us: live within the bounds of reality (covenant) that bind us to the life-giving love of God, or walk away from those bonds to live in a delusion of our own creation. It all comes down to how we use the power God has placed in our hands.

Whatever power we have is a gift, like life. We can choose to promote the common good through fair dealing and hard work, or to manipulate the market in order to profit at someone else’s expense. The choice is as simple as life or death, reality or idolatry.

God has put us in positions of power, and he has given us the freedom to use our power for good or for bad, for life or for death. Freedom and power are his gifts of grace, and the choice is ours. By grace he invites us to choose life, and receive life abundant.

[1] Chad Bray, Jenny Anderson, and Ben Protess, “Big Banks Are Fined $4.25 Billion in Inquiry Into Currency-Rigging,” New York Times, November 12, 2014. http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/11/12/british-and-u-s-regulators-fine-big-banks-3-16-billion-in-foreign-exchange-scandal/, accessed 16 November 2014.

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© Bruce D. Baker, 2014

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