$3.35 a gallon and rising. Here in New Hampshire where public transportation is hard to find, this really hurts the average person. And yet, I get the feeling that people will still do what they want to do, be it a Sunday drive, a trip to the mall or four-wheelin’. But will the price of gas stop people from getting together with friends and family or stop them from gathering with other believers as the church?
Not too long ago I was speaking to Gordon MacDonald (author of Ordering Your Private World) about how the oil prices and overall energy costs could change the scenery of our churches. He said that it wouldn’t be unlikely for people to return to their “community” instead of driving distances. Either that or the ramping up of public transportation systems like buses and trains. While I would tend to agree, there is another side to all of this. What is really important? Several travel many miles and many minutes to meet other believers at our church facility in Pembroke, New Hampshire. Grace Capital Church is an eclectic blend of cultures, ages, races, backgrounds…and towns and cities.
It could be said that the gas prices can reveal commitment levels. In most places around the world it would be a bargain to pay just $3.35 a gallon. It’s over $6 a gallon in London, Paris and Hong Kong. Rwanda gas prices are so high compared to the average income that it would be comparable to us paying $15-$20 a gallon. Still, I don’t like paying that much for gas, especially since I remember the days when it was .70 cents a gallon. Not that I’m so old that I drove during those days, but because I remember the gas crisis when lines of cars waited for their chance to fill up.
So where does God fit into all this? Right in the middle, I think. Of course, He wants us to conserve and be good stewards of His resources. Of course, He doesn’t want us spending more money than we need to and living within our means. And, of course, He is concerned about how this effects what we do and how it may reveal our priorities. The Bible says that “the Earth is the Lord’s and everything in it” (Psalm 24:1 and later quoted in 1 Corinthians 10:26). He knows where the natural resources are, because they all belong to Him.
Perhaps we need to make some hard calls in these times. If we plan on continuing living the way we do, we may want to consider downsizing a bit to free up resources. Decide what’s important not just for you, but for others and if it’s going to take a full tank of gas now and then, plan for it. Don’t get uptight, but live a flexible life. Invite others over your house. Do something local. Pray with your neighbors or have a cookout together. Walk to the downtown area or the park. Find out what the bus route is and make it happen. When you are traveling by car, make it work with several plans at once. Like if you are going to church or shopping, meet friends there and do something together nearby.
Gas prices are probably not going to get lower in the future. But, as I was saying to my son today, there will come a time when there will be an abundance- if we even need it at all. He liked that idea, what teenager wouldn’t!