Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Delusion of Relaxed Standards

Our country is in the midst of a credit crisis that Warren Buffet calls “an economic Pearl Harbor.” President Bush recently proposed a $700 billion financial-markets bailout. When you add in the US Government’s take-over of American International Group, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the amount for which we taxpayers initially will be liable will probably exceed $1 trillion.

How did this disaster come about? There are many answers, but one reason is a relaxation of standards. After the Great Depression, Congress, in 1930, passed the Glass-Steagall Act, which barred commercial banks from being "engaged principally" in securities business. In 1986 the Federal Reserve Board re-interpreted the law to mean that banks can have 5 percent of gross revenues from securities. In 1996 that figure rose to 25 percent!

In a related area, many well-meaning politicians began enacting mortgage lending legislation under the presumption that owning one’s own home was an entitlement all Americans should enjoy. Standards were relaxed. They mandated that banks comply. Potential home-owners no longer had to be as credit-worthy, or make a 20 percent deposit, or hold the same job for a lengthy period of time, as before. Welfare checks could count as salary. Predictably, many people purchased homes they could not really afford, especially if the housing market collapsed. When their mortgage rates adjusted upwards, many could no longer make the necessary payments and they defaulted, which sent the housing market into a tailspin. Now, the President and leaders of both parties are asking the taxpayers to pick up the tab for other peoples’ unwise investments. On Monday, Sept. 29, 2008, the US House rejected the proposed bailout and the Dow Jones fell by 700 points.

Not surprisingly, many people operate under the assumption that God, like the US Government, is an Affirmative Action Advocate. If we don’t quite measure up to His standards, it’s OK. He will just drop the bar a little lower so we can qualify. I can have a little dishonesty here, and a smidgen of lust there. I can covet, and under-report my income, but that’s OK – God will still let me into heaven! Sadly, we delude ourselves. With our tendency to relax standards, we have recreated God in our own likeness and image. We have invented a cosmic immortal Santa Claus who hands out forgiveness even to those who don’t think they really need it.

God is not an Affirmative Action God. He is a holy God who never relaxes His standards, not even once! Any sin, even eating forbidden fruit, is deadly, and will alienate us from the Almighty.

Here’s the truth. God loves each person in the world so much He offered up His Son to pay the Death Penalty for all human sinners. God has pre-packaged an incredible gift bailout for all our sins! But it wasn’t free! He paid the entire cost Himself in Jesus! But no gift is worth anything until it is actually opened. Have you embraced Jesus, God’s only remedy for your sin?

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