The Bible and the Russian Tycoon
In these days when great financial empires collapse, and we who live in the richest country of the world look with alarm at the melting figures of our savings, it is high time to talk about a dream. Do you think that you have misheard? No, not at all. Dreams have always been at the heart of both national and individual progress.
For many years, the twisted concept of "the American dream" has contained, first of all, a long list of worldly desires that are expressed by the tricky word, "prosperity“. People begin to expect luxurious new cars, beautifully furnished homes, vacations in the subtropics — the Good Life. For many, these temptations are the major incentive for working hard.
Recently, as the economy climbed upwards, and in a pursuit of earthly blessings, we forgot about other components of “the Good Life“. Freedom of speech and freedom of faith have been, of course, considered important, but all the same, they have faded into the background as people rushed to promote their materialistic dreams. These dreams have taken root in the soil of wealthy countries, including in the lands of the former Soviet Union, particularly those whose bowels are rich with oil and gas.
Then, suddenly, in a instant, the weeds of illusion have been carried away as by a dashing whirlwind. Market shares have depreciated. People are losing their jobs. There is no longer easy money available for loans on houses or cars. More and more people come the fresh food market to sate their eyes, but not the stomachs. World order as we know it has reeled. Press headlines announce suicides, not from broken love affairs, but due to an insurmountable mountain of accumulating debt. Someone will advise: "It is necessary simply to earn more, and to spend less. Stretch your arm no further than your sleeve will reach". Certainly, this advice is more easily given than received.
Do you remember Mikhail Khodorkovsky, an oil tycoon and the richest man in Russia? According to "Forbes" magazine, his capital was over 15 billion dollars. Suddenly he has lost everything and is now imprisoned far away in a harsh Siberian camp. However, the greatest pain since the loss of his money and his freedom is not the frustration over his monetary crash. A russian writer who has interviewed former billioner sees that today Mikhail has time to do a lot of thinking. Mikhail compares his former and present life, he has come to understand that he was a slave to the billions he once owned. He now realizes that all of his wealth never bought him true freedom.
And at night, in a camp barrack, he has begun to ask himself questions: "Why is democracy better than dictatorship? Why is personal freedom better than no freedom? Why should we love that which is present and near to us? After all, in the "then" there will be nothing! Or can this be, will it be? Is it possible to believe that God does not exist; or is it also possible to believe that He does. Belief demands faith, not proofs. But if God not exit and all our life is just a short second on a way from ashes in ashes, then what is this all for? What is our dreams for, our aspirations, our sufferings? What is to discovery for? What is to love for? What we should live for?” I can't believe that everything exists just as is, for nothing (no reason). I can't believe and I do not want to believe. We live not just to make earth and water dearty. Everybody looks for his personal happiness. But we all exist for something bigger than that".
In the Bible, in the Gospel of Matthew, we find Jesus conversing with the rich young man who asked the Teacher about the meaning of the life. The rich man tried to live according to moral rules, but his heart felt an incompleteness in his existence. Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell what you own and give the money to the destitute, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come back and follow me" (Matthew 19:21). Alas, the young man did not dare to leave his gold. He had not understood that the main thing was not in the words of the Lord "give the money", but in the appeal "follow Me".
Today, many of us stand at the same crossroad. Should we devote ourselves to money or to following Jesus? At times, God allows some challenges into our life - some tests. Today’s financial crisis could be one of them. He does not do this for punishment but for the purification of the wise. He will help us to take that step on which our spiritual life depends. This step is only the beginning of the way. Each of us makes a personal decision to follow Jesus, but all together, in the Body of Christ, we encourage each other and we become stronger in Him.
Our organization — "Slavic Missionary Service International " — has been in existence seventy five years. For all these years we have aspired to help people from the former Soviet Union to realize the true dream of the human heart — to find an eternal life in the overall love of Jesus Christ. Our radio programs, our audio dramas, lectures of known theologians, and our documentaries, — all of our best, created over decades, is accessible now on the Internet.
Read, listen, look. Write to us and share with us your meditations and your testimony. We invite you to join us as pat of our family in the spiritual home of our Father.