While parents know the importance of teaching their children the value of money, far fewer realize the importance of teaching their children sound theology. Sound theology is a greater treasure than gold. Money can only help you when it is available, but good theology will anchor you when your money runs out.
Inheriting True Riches
We have a beautiful handmade rag carpet hanging in our family room that my grandmother created on her loom. She sold similar carpets during the depression to help her family survive. Even after the depression ended, times were tough living in that rural Pennsylvania coal mining community.
Whenever I complained about eating peanut butter for my lunch, my mom was quick to remind me that she walked two miles each way to school and ate lard sandwiches every day for lunch. Today eating lard sandwiches sounds crazy. We assume our economy will keep humming along, and our kids will enjoy the same prosperity we did.
But what if the bailouts of 2008 had not worked, and we experienced a total collapse of our banking system? What if a banking failure led to a second depression? Have you ever thought what you would do if you lost your job and couldn’t find another for seven years? What if you lost your house and needed to move in with friends? Sound theology can sustain us through really difficult times.
How Theology Shapes Our Families
Around fifteen years ago, our family vacationed in Florida where I heard the most amazing story. We met Oma, the eighty-year-old grandmother of my wife’s college friend. Oma told us that when she was still a little girl living in Germany, her uncle pounded on their door late one night and woke them all up. He brought them an important message. “The war is coming,” he warned. Oma, her family, and Jewish houseguest grabbed what little they could carry and left their farmhouse.
When WWI was over, they returned to their farm. The farmhouse, built by her father, was reduced to a pile of rubble. The family cried when they saw the destruction. Oma’s father gathered them at the foot of the rubble and reminded them of the sound theology he had taught them all their lives. “We may have lost everything, but we have not lost Jesus,” he said. When troubles come, sound theology reminds us that faith in Jesus is all we need.
After a few days or so, living alongside the rubble, their Jewish houseguest who remained with them through the war spotted a man in the distance walking toward them. She recognized his gait and shouted, “Papa!” Then she ran to greet her father who had come to search for his daughter now that the war was over. She explained how Oma’s family had cared for her through the war and kept her safe.
Her father welled up with gratitude. “I will rebuild your farm,” he said, for he was wealthy and wanted to repay the family for their kindness. There was no way Oma’s family could have rebuilt their farm on their own, but God, who saw their faith, provided. Good theology held the family together during the war. Good theology influenced their decision to welcome and care for their Jewish houseguest. Good theology kept them from despairing when they lost everything, and good theology prepared them to lose everything again.
Yes, they lost everything again, this time after the end of the Second World War. Once again they were displaced from their home. When WWII was over, they no longer owned their farm; it was given away. They found themselves homeless and destitute. Once again their father gathered together the family and reminded them, “We may have lost everything, but we have not lost Jesus.”
That is where my wife’s grandfather Carl Rausch comes into the story. When he heard there were German Christians left homeless after the war, he decided to sponsor Oma’s family to come to the United States. He gave Oma’s father and brothers jobs in his machine shop and welcomed them all to live in his home.
Carl, his wife, and their kids all welcomed Oma and her family in, for their theology taught them to share with those who are in need, just as the early church did in the book of Acts. They knew that whatever they did to “the least of these,” they did for Jesus (Matthew 25:40). Oma’s dad was right, all you really need is Jesus, and no one can take him away from you.
What About You?
So how well are you preparing your children for their future? Our national debt is currently over 18 trillion dollars (that’s $18,000,000,000,000). In addition to the debt, the Federal Reserve is holding another $4.5 billion in bonds, purchased with money they created out of thin air. Add to that another $84 trillion in government pensions, social security, and medical programs and you start to see just how big a hole we’ve dug.
The truth is, we could experience another crash, and this time it could be a big one. Building good theology into your children today can help them face the looming financial challenges of tomorrow.
Back in 1920, a fine men’s business suit cost three $10 gold pieces. That same $30 in gold today is worth over $1,500 would would easily buy you the best suit on the rack. Gold doesn’t lose value. Too bad our money isn’t backed by gold anymore. My grandmother used to complain about kids who constantly asked for more, saying, “They need to learn the value of a dollar.”
Sadly today our dollars are only worth the paper they are printed on. In 1920, the markings on a $20 bill read, “This certifies that there have been deposited in the Treasury of the United States of America twenty dollars in gold coin payable to the bearer on demand.” Today it simply says, “Federal Reserve Note.” With these trillions of dollars, our country is in debt and there is no gold to back our currency. Many warn that we are headed for trouble.
But good theology is like gold; it never loses its value. We all hope and pray our government finds a way out of our current economic challenges. But if our grown children find themselves standing around a pile of rubble with their kids one day, good theology will serve to keep them trusting Christ.