In the parable of the housebuilders, Jesus told about a foolish man who built his house on a foundation of sand.
The house looked good and appeared to be sound. The builder was smug as he silently calculated all that he had saved from a potential expenditure that would not have been visible anyway. His house looked better than those of his neighbors because his wise economizing had allowed him to add extra cosmetic features.
But when the rain, floods and winds came, the house began to move ever so slightly. It began to make sounds which were new to the owner; creaks and rumblings that became progressively louder. Sands underneath the house began to move; slowly at first and then rapidly. Suddenly, a side of the house dropped noticeably lower as that part of the house lost its foundation. The house began to move and shift. Walls and a portion of the roof began to fall. Abruptly, the entire house fell as it was swiftly carried away by the flood waters and slowly sank below the raging torrents.
"A foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house. And it fell. And its fall was great" (Matt. 7: 26b-27).
Make no mistake about it. Today's global economy has a foundation of sand. Unsustainable debt, a disappearing middle class, large and growing income inequality, slowing international trade, dropping productivity, derivative exposure by some of the world's largest banks, and ineffective fiscal and monetary policies are the building materials of the current global economic foundation. Global political risks also threaten the economy. Central banks have few tools left and governmental finances limit expansionary fiscal policies.
At this writing, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has recovered most of what was lost in the days after the Brexit vote. Do not be deluded. Two years of negotiation between Britain and the EU will be filled with economic risks and uncertainty. Other countries will be encouraged to hold referendums and possibly leave the EU Scotland could leave Great Britain. Brexit has introduced more stress into an already stressed European banking sector. Some bank failures are a possibility. Corporate profits are strained.
The global economic situation does not imply that foundation repairs cannot be made. Global interest rates and energy costs are historically low. Much idle capacity (capital and labor) exists. Technological and communication capacity and potential has never been greater. Knowledge is growing exponentially. Decision-makers have the ability and capacity to complete needed foundation repairs. They need the will.
In the parable of the housebuilders, Jesus also told about a wise man who built his house on a foundation of rock. Not only did the house look good and sound, but its appearance matched reality. The builder made the effort to go all the way down to bedrock, through obedience to the Word, and established a foundation that could withstand the trials and tests of time.
The house was not spared the tests of rain, floods and winds. It may have been shaken. The challenges might have been inconvenient. The house may have sprang a few leaks or lost a few shingles. But, the house did not fall! We have the assurance of Jesus, that if we hear His sayings and do them, we will not fall! Regardless of economic, political or societal tests, if we are obedient, we will not fall!
"Whoever hears these sayings of Mine and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on a rock. And the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house. And it did not fall, for it was founded a rock" (Matt. 7:24-25).
Dr. James R. Russell is professor of economics and chair of the Undergraduate College of Business at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
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