Coin of the Realm

for the week of January 7, 2002
by Rubel Shelly

With the dawn of the New Year 2002, twelve European countries made the biggest monetary conversion in history. For all the historical and sentimental value attached to francs, lira, marks, and other familiar currencies, they have now been officially abandoned in favor of the new euro.

Although euro notes and coins will circulate with the old currencies for varying periods, the plan calls for 300 million Europeans to be using only the euro within two months of E-Day as January 1, 2002, was dubbed.

There were heated political debates. There were protests. There were dire predictions of confusion and economic disarray. But the changeover took place. And if I'm ever in Europe again, I will have to change dollars for euros. That's just the way money works. Travelers must use "coin of the realm."

Oh, I know all about coin of the realm. It's not that I'm such a seasoned or sophisticated vagabond. It's that I have taken children to playrooms and pizza parlors where dollars, quarters, and nickels won't spend. When you walk through the door with wide-eyes kids pulling away from you to get to the games and vehicles, you have to restrain them long enough to buy those brass-colored, quarter-sized tokens that will make the wheels turn and lights flash. Only the tokens with the place's mascot in profile will function as coin of the realm.

The same thing is true in principle for flesh and Spirit, the world and the kingdom of God. In the former, money, sex, and power are typically regarded as having ultimate value. "Look Out for Number One" is the operative principle. I've even seen "The One With the Most Toys Wins" splashed on bumper stickers.

If you intend to live a spiritual life that honors God and fulfills your proper destiny, you will have to cash in the old currencies of materialism, sensualism, and intimidation. Prejudice and hatred, anger and impurity, lust and stupor, selfishness and greed they won't spend in the world of virtue and right relationships. They must be traded in for new coinage that will include self-control and kindness, generosity and faithfulness, humility and patience, peace and joy.

The most important unit of currency in this new country is love. It is what you will spend on such cherished items as care for others, sacrifice, and forgiveness. It's coin of the realm for where you've always wanted to be.

I find it interesting that even banks call this exchange process "conversion."

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