Wednesday, September 30, 2009

an eternal commodity

different cultures have differing currencies. this is one of the side effects of having individual sovereign nations, in order to trade between two different currencies you either need to find some way to exchange your currency for theirs or find some other common currency to trade in. for example, in the united states, someone may risk much for 1,000 dollars, however, in yemen, unless there was a way to exchange u.s. dollars for yemeni rial, that money is useless; no one would risk anything for it. however, whether you are in the us or in yemen, an oil field is always worth a great deal of risk. oil is what we would consider a fairly universal commodity.

however, let us say that we have perfected the use of ethanol-burning vehicles and machinery and can produce usable ethanol more cheaply than oil. suddenly that oil field is much less valuable, especially considering greater restrictions on oil usage. eventually, that oil field may even be worthless. though oil may be a universal commodity, it is not eternal.

similarly, it is always frightening as a member of the labor force, to find yourself a specialist in a field that is quickly becoming obsolete. many attempt to avoid this situation by becoming experts in valuable fields which will never become obsolete, or will not become obsolete in their lifetime. for example, it is not likely in this lifetime that we will discover a way to live without shelter, so construction skills are fairly secure. however, the demand for such a skill fluctuates with the housing market in a particular area and thus is not necessarily a universal commodity.

without getting into a discussion on economics that is actually over my head, the basic principle here is that there are certain things that are more universally valuable and which hold their value for a longer period of time than others. this is true from the playground to the wto.

1 peter 1:18-19 says, "…you were not redeemed with corruptible things like silver or gold...but with the precious blood of Christ." regardless of cultural differences, technological advances, and economic cycles, life is almost always a precious commodity. unfortunately we must only say "almost," because there are those who do not much value the lives of others or of themselves. nevertheless, life is the most valuable resource in the realm of human experience. when the life in question is that of the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, the value becomes incalculable. yet, that Creator and Sustainer chose to use the most eternally valuable commodity in the universe to purchase the life of His people. our purchase price resists the power of inflation, supersedes national and cultural boundaries, does not become obsolete, and it does not depreciate; it is, truly, incorruptible.
so then, how does one respond to such a revelation? the best way to know is to look at the purpose of this declaration in 1 peter 1:13-17. paul gives several directives based on this knowledge:

first, "gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;"

second, as obedient children, do not conform yourselves "to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, 'be holy, for i am holy.'"

third, "conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear;" knowing that, in case it bears repeating, "you were not redeemed with corruptible things like silver or gold…but with the precious blood of Christ."

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