Riddle me this: In a world where everyone is in debt to someone, does the Christian faith offer anything that can actually liberate humanity?
Jean-Jacques Rousseau once noted that although human beings are born free, they are everywhere in chains. If you ask me, then, one of the best things faith leaders could be exploring during this time of monumental social upheaval (which is related to if not caused by the COVID-19 pandemic) is the relationship of the Gospel to financial debt.￼
Despite its roots￼￼ in the ancient Jewish vision of economic Jubilee (Leviticus 25), the Christian faith in the West has applied the New Testament language of debt forgiveness to everything but actual, tangible debt.￼
Consequently, instead of building a new community that prefigures the age to come, ￼we have made the kingdom of God out to be a matter of personal salvation where Jesus pays the bloody price while believers go scot-free from a burden of sin that is one hundred percent metaphysical.
As nice as that sounds, I think there is more to the story. And no, I’m not talking about Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace seminar.
Go back to the first Christian community and you’ll see that it was known for one outstanding quality: “There was no one needy among them” (Acts 4:34). Food, shelter, and clothing were provided for everyone through the mutual give-and-take of people whose hearts had been set ablaze by an epic new vision. No governmental redistribution of wealth necessary.
Imagine a church like that and you will begin to see what I mean by rebooting the Christian faith.