“May your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” These words were uttered by none other than Jesus Christ, creator of heaven and earth, and His followers have been praying these words for millennia ever since. Through darkness and light, in evil circumstances and good, in times ancient and modern.
These are old words. I was recently on business in the Vatican City, and my wife and I attended worship inside St. Peter’s Basilica, a holy place effused with age and significance. I am not Catholic, but you do not have to be in order to be touched by the weight of time and endurance of the Word of God throughout time, which is palpable and physically on display in that old place, surrounded by ancient relics and old stories, despite our sin and failure.
As the words of our Lord’s prayer left my lips under the watchful gaze of stone saints who themselves prayed and preserved those exact words through the ages, even unto martyrdom, I was struck by the significance of our part in keeping old words alive, in word and deed.
How do we personally and corporately carry those ancient words “on earth as it is in heaven” as the Church in our modern time? And for us in the investment industry, how do we carry those ancient words in our daily work?
To pray is to work, and to work is to pray. “On earth as it is in heaven” indeed is our prayer, and it is also our God-ordained task. Our modern work must echo our ancient prayers. Whatever our work, there are three principles involved in working our prayer of “your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” into physical existence: Supporting what is good; Opposing what is evil; and, Restoring what is broken.
As investors, we have the opportunity, and I would say the calling, to incarnate this heavenly vision with a uniquely transformational impact. Where we place capital matters. Are the companies we invest in through public or private markets, stocks, mutual funds, ETFs, 401(k), or whatever investment vehicle worthy of the support of God’s people? Do they represent a heavenly good that we can support? Does their work, in some small or large way, reflect God’s will and God’s Kingdom purposes? Certainly, there is a spectrum here, and there are no companies that come close to actual heavenly perfection, but so long as we have the opportunity, are we actively choosing to allocate God’s capital toward those businesses which more closely align with His will than others?
While we go about our prayerful task of investing money toward this heavenly vision, we find that we are not only confronted by a spectrum of companies in relation to the good that they produce but by a spectrum of companies in relation to the evil that they promote. Abortion drug manufacturers (please step forward, Pfizer, et al.), pornography distributors (I’m looking at you, Netflix and Amazon), aiders and abettors of human trafficking (that would be you, Meta-Facebook), and all manner of businesses which perpetrate sin and folly upon creation pollute the investment landscape with their ungodly filth.
To invest on earth as it is in heaven requires us to be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves, to sharply distinguish evil from good, and to oppose such evil with whatever means we have been given. Can such investments have any place in the portfolio of an investor seeking God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven? May it never be counted among the people of God to be complacent partakers of the profits of such evil.
Perhaps the only place such companies might have in Christendom’s portfolio is when we have a real opportunity to make a difference that only an investor could make. To actively and strongly pull a company out of the muck and mire through proxy, resolution, petition, or other means. To renew what is broken is the heart of God; to be a sanctifying influence is to join God in His redemptive plan. To be sure, there is no way to redeem abortion drug manufacturing or pornography, or other similarly despicable businesses. Their only proper end is to be crushed with the serpent under the heel of Christ, and as the body of Christ here on earth, investors may sometimes be called to be Christ’s heel.
However, I find the more common situation is a company with stains that we, as investors, by the grace of God, can wash away, crooked parts we can help straighten. This means we cannot be idle, passive investors. Instead, we must invest with intention and engage either directly ourselves or by partnership, such as by investing with a Christian asset manager who engages on your behalf. We must speak biblical truth to corporate power, and when corporate power bends the knee to that truth, we rejoice, and when it remains stiff-necked and rebellious, we must shake the dust from our feet and invest God’s money elsewhere.
Investment creates. What are your investments creating? Is it a world where God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven? Or is it something else, something less? Investing toward the heavenly vision requires us as Christian investors to “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” (Romans 12:9) with every investment we make or decline to make, as the case may be. Then we will find ourselves treading the footsteps of holy men and women who came long before us, playing our role in the age we have been placed to carry and keep the old words “on earth as it is in heaven” until He comes.
Truly, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven, oh Lord! Come, Lord Jesus, come!
Robert Netzly is the CEO of Inspire Investing and frequent contributor on FOX, Bloomberg, New York Times and other major media. Read more from Robert in his #1 bestselling book Biblically Responsible Investing, available at Amazon.com and other major retailers.