In this 21st-century world, things are changing rapidly. It has been estimated that total human knowledge is doubling at least every 12-13 months. The pace is accelerating.
In some fields, knowledge is doubling every few weeks. Rapid increases in processing and communication technologies have allowed people to process, analyze, modify and share information and ideas in real time. New discoveries can be shared and made available to all instantly.
Cultural norms are also dissolving quickly. People have come to distrust government, the political process, business, banks, the church and Christians in general. To many, marriage covenants have been replaced by temporary living experiments. Gender has become arbitrary. Continuing a pregnancy has become an option to be measured against financial considerations and convenience. Texting and chats are replacing personal communication. Expect society's drift to continue.
Buying patterns are also changing. Purchases from online websites are displacing brick-and-mortar retail outlets. In some instances, retail stores are becoming showrooms for their or others online presence. Retail chains are closing stores and facing significant financial challenges. Expect the trend to continue.
U.S. consumers are choosing to rent instead of owning a home. The U.S. home ownership rate is 63.5 percent; the second-lowest rate in more than 20 years. Increased demand for rental housing has caused average rental prices of vacant units to increase from less than $700 in 2011 to more than $850 today. The higher rental prices have not been enough to ration demand. Retail vacancy rates have fallen from nearly 10 percent in 2011 to 7 percent today. Expect rental prices to increase further.
Members of the kingdom should diligently seek to establish spiritual roots. Our roots need to be deep; capable of withstanding the winds of change, spiritual droughts and environmental challenges. Our roots, based upon obedience to the Word of God (logos and rhema), will nourish us in challenging times and allow us to be fruitful. Members of the clergy should encourage and aid in the development of deep spiritual roots.
"But he who received the seed on rocky ground is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, eventually he falls away. He also who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, but the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit. Some produce a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown" (Matt. 13:20-23, MEV).
Members of the kingdom should also develop roots in the natural. In a time of rapid economic, societal, cultural and political change, the natural tendency is to hole-up, freeze, cease long-run planning, and move into survival mode. This tendency should be avoided. The Lord can use all things for good (Rom. 8:28).
"The Lord told the Jewish captives in Babylon, though Jeremiah the prophet, to build houses, marry, have children, seek the peace of the city and pray for the it. He also told them to not be deceived by those whom He has not sent. Even though the customs, societal norms, culture, language, and government was totally foreign to what they were used to, the Lord promised increase and peace if they did it His way" (Jer. 29:5-7, MEV).
These are the last days. Times are changing. The changes are likely to continue and accelerate. We must have and must teach others to develop deep spiritual and natural roots. Our relationship with Christ must increase.
"As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, and abounding with thanksgiving" (Col. 2:6-7, MEV).
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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