Economics and Theology (+Infinity)

It’s been a while since I blogged, I’m doing an interesting side project and will not be blogging a lot, but I have this on my mind for a while now.

Just for fun, I want to put invisible qualities of God into a more tangible form, I’m not sure if this will be an accurate representation of the Gospel, so please do point out flaws of this theory.

I looked up the definition of economics on dictionary.com and felt it was an inaccurate description, so I decided to go to Wikipedia.

Economics is the social science that studies the behavior of individuals, groups, and organizations (called economic actors, players, or agents), when they manage or use scarce resources, which have alternative uses, to achieve desired ends. Agents are assumed to act rationally, have multiple desirable ends in sight, limited resources to obtain these ends, a set of stable preferences, a definite overall guiding objective, and the capability of making a choice. There exists an economic problem, subject to study by economic science, when a decision (choice) has to be made by one or more resource-controlling players to attain the best possible outcome under bounded rational conditions. In other words, resource-controlling agents must maximize value subject to the constraints imposed by the information the agents have, their cognitive limitations, and the finite amount of time they have to make and execute a decision. Economic science centers on the activities of the economic agents that comprise society.

 

Economics is based on the natural world, where infinity does not exist except in an abstract form or in Math. In a natural economic model, everything has an opportunity cost. An opportunity cost is the value of the next best opportunity foregone, where an agent has to choose between desirable yet mutually exclusive actions, or  “the basic relationship between scarcity and choice.”

An example would be if an apple costs 2 dollars, and a pizza slice cost 5 dollars. I only have 20 dollars. At most I can get 10 apples or 4 pizza slice.

I am also able to have bundles such as 7 apples and 1 pizza slice, or 3 pizza slice and 2 apples, etc… Choosing one option would mean foregoing the other.

But what if the merchant doesn’t accept dollars? I can’t get anything even if I insist on paying.

 

Now sin is an intangible. Sin, by its very definition, means debt. According to the Scriptures in the Old Testament, sin is often paid by the currency of blood and life, not by the currency of good works.

 

For “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” Isaiah 64:6, with polluted garment an euphemism for women’s menstrual cloth.

 

How much does sin cost?

Life: he state of being alive, in other words, priceless.

 

Sin corrupted everything that was good and perfect, and eventually people even stop paying for the debt and put more credit to sin

Debit: Sin  \infty or |x|

Credit: Life  \infty or |x|

The only way out of this is to pay “Life \infty” , but there is no way, because even if people live out their entire life doing good deeds – Life 80, or Life 58, or even Life 122, it doesn’t cover Sin \infty .

Who then have Life \infty?

Only God himself is \infty.  God the Father, God the Son, God the Spirit – Holy, Holy, Holy

 Thus God the Father sends God the Son, Jesus, to pay Life \infty for \infty of people because He is \infty.

 

So now whoever trust Jesus as their Lord and Savior (Debt-Payer) is redeemed from sin. Whoever does not is still in sin.

Neither Christians nor Non-Christians deserve heaven, but it is by the gift of God: Grace, through faith, that brings us into Jesus’s body and household, so through Him we are saved.

I would say Economics is an interesting invisible quality that God reveals himself in – His Love and Justice – how he paid our debts no matter the cost while we are still disgusting enemies when he had an opportunity to start over and make a new world.

That is akin to playing SimCity and having those pesky Sims protest against you (the mayor), instead of you deciding to have fun with the disasters tab, leave, and create a new city, you actually take the time to fix everything up while foregoing something most important to you whatever that maybe: dinner, hanging out with friends, spend money on faster internet, etc…

I like to see invisible things. Fun fact of the day: God is the creator of humor, irony, sarcasm, sadness, and all other human pathos ethos and logos. It’s not God is like human but human made in God’s image.

 

 

 

 

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Opportunity Cost

Today my econ brain is more active than usual. As such, I see much clearer the results of people’s choices, including my own, and the opportunity costs it took to get those results.

Knowing about the results, I wonder if people are rational? Economics assume people are rational for the purpose of providing empirical results, given everyone has the same amount of information and knowledge to process problems.

This assumption is far from reality. We live in a very unfair world; life isn’t fair. Some people are born more gifted, some people have less resources, while others are born with closer knit community. Everyone has different backgrounds and perception of the world around them. 

One thing remain constant: everyone still have opportunity costs no matter where they are. There are always choices. Often you pick one choice, you forego the other. There is always a price, an opportunity cost, whether it is time, money, emotions, energy, potentials. 

So now I ponder, where is the limit? What are people willing to trade to get what they want?

Now one thing to consider: opportunity costs only apply to business/conditional relationships. Opportunity costs does not apply on family relations.

First I need to define the relationship I’m referring to (because English language is limited): it is the state of being related, not the state of interaction. Just like how the parable of the lost son, even though the son squandered his father’s money and left, it does not change the fact he is still his son. Another example is even though if a parent has Alzheimer’s and forgets you, it does not change the relationship status. There is no cost; the relationship is unconditional; it exists because it is.

This is what Jesus offers, it is this status of unconditional relationship. It is not a business deal: “here is something for this of yours”. It is an invitation, “come and be adopted”. 

Is this too good to be true? How? Why?

Because God is love; it is His character and does not change ever. He made the world perfect.

Humans are a different story though.

The opportunity cost to make humans able to love is allowing them able to choose not to love; humans were capable of choosing between good and the absence of good, which we now know as the word evil, both moral evil and natural evil.

Moral evil is what people do and the choices they make, that is what makes people hungry, that is what causes wars, that is what causes heartbreaks, that is what causes people to get shot.

Natural evil is when the earth became cursed, like wildfires, earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis. When we humans told God to shove off, He partially honored our request. Nature began to revolt. The earth was cursed. Genetic breakdown and disease began. Pain and death became part of the human experience. 

Here is a less-than-perfect analogy for this opportunity cost God took: even before parents had children, couldn’t they foresee that there was the very real possibility they may suffer disappointment or pain or heartache in life, or that they might even hurt the parents and walk away? Of course — but parents still had kids. Why? Because they knew there was also the potential for tremendous joy and deep love and great meaning.

“God took the very worst thing that has ever happened in the history of the universe — the death of God on the cross — and turned it into the very best thing that has happened in history of universe: the opening up of heaven to all who follow Him.” http://www.biblegateway.com/blog/2012/07/why-does-god-allow-tragedy-and-suffering/

I got lazy and decided to use someone else’s blog, but it’s pretty filling.

Anyways, the opportunity cost of following Jesus is your fleshly body. It seems to be a big price, but it’s actually not, considering what people’s flesh is. It’s mortgages, bankruptcy, or in accounting terms: “accounts unpayable”. What you need to give up is your values and exchange it for Jesus’s values, in essence, allow Jesus give you a new heart.

So many people asked me, what are you doing with your degree in economics? This is a part of the answer.

This is what studying economics do for me, more than learning equations and strategies and policies, economics allow me see things in a bigger perspective rationally.

What looks bad in the short term may be good for the long term, and what looks good in the short term may be bad for the long term. 

I’m reading this book called Good to Great by Jim Collins. It’s a book analyzing how companies turn from good to great. One of the commonalities between them is they didn’t do more, but they focused on what to stop doing and give up for the greater good. 

Totally makes sense: in order to be greater than what you are now, you need to shed away the crap and hinders your goals. 

Then the question quickly becomes: What is your values and goal in life? If the “crap” you need to get rid of to achieve that goal is actually good, you should reevaluate your goal and your values. Don’t let your opportunity cost be higher than your result.

When I decide to follow Jesus, I know my opportunity cost is nothing compared to the result. Even now when I decided to go on missions to Thailand, I know the opportunity cost (my career/family approval/personal comfort)is nothing compared to the result of people’s lives saved and changed eternally. 

Yes, if anyone sees this and wants to support whether by prayer or financially for this trip, please message me. I’ll be leaving June 19th and I need the funds sent in by 15th. When you allow God to use your resources, you will not regret it, in fact, you’ll be more at peace because you know someone’s life will be changed and you are part of the reason why.

This was supposed to be a short rant about opportunity costs, but stuff popped up in my mind and I just had to keep writing.

So this is an example of what I think about when I lie down on my bed.