In late antiquity, the nation of Rome knew economic depression. The gory days of Julius Caesar were over and the population was dwindling – taking the economy with it. In 313 a.d., Roman Emperor, Constantine, issued the famous Edict of Milan which allowed Christians to practice their religion legally. The persecution was ended and the Roman nation embraced Christianity with open arms. All government leaders were Christian and Constantine had Pagan centers burned down or converted into churches. A few generations later, Theodosius would officially make Christianity the religion of Rome (In school, you were probably taught that Constantine did that) and everyone in the empire proclaimed a Christian faith. The church worked hand-in-hand with the government to bring order and to worship God.
And it didn’t help the economy. Rome dwindled away even faster than before and was soon a memory to most of the people who had known it as their home. Barbarians took up where Rome had left off and the empire would never be the same.
Previously, Armenia had been facing economic downturn and had made Christianity their official religion (before Rome) only to be conquered (by Rome). They found their independence and forged a strong legacy over many centuries, but their small country has known great hardship.
The United States (which is nothing like Rome – despite the many crude comparisons made by TV pundits) is certainly having trouble, today. And some say that the answer is Jesus. As a Believer, I can’t recommend anything that benefits a person better than to pursue a relationship with Him. No matter how bad things get, His hand will lead us on. But this is not a recipe for economic recovery.
The very people who struggled with disease and poverty in the early middle ages prayed every day and never missed church (and, no, no one was forcing them at the time). They were Christian societies that did their best to honor God while wearing rags and never knowing prosperity. Of course, their consolation was found in scripture; the Bible tells us stories of people who did everything right and still did not have a rich life. The very apostles they adored so much received nothing but murder and torture for their troubles, and for many Old Testament prophets each trial just led the way to another.
Personal devotion is always important for the Believer, however, the motivation for it should not be money. Let’s remember our devotion in order that we may know Him – no matter what the word around us brings.
(More articles at www.ThinkingThroughChristianity.com)