The biblically responsible investing (BRI) movement is booming as Christian investors move billions of dollars each year to switch their portfolios into biblically responsible investments, seeking to avoid profiting from abortion drug manufacturers, adult entertainment distributors, LGBT activism, human trafficking and other immoral issues.
As the biblically responsible investing (BRI) movement continues to take Wall Street by storm, the question of performance routinely surfaces. Questions such as, “Will I have to sacrifice performance if I switch my portfolio to biblically responsible investing?” are natural, logical and very appropriate questions to ask. Perhaps it is because we are wired to assume that if we do the right thing we are going to suffer for it, the proverbial “good guys finish last” situation, or maybe because we are fearful that if we do something out of the ordinary, like biblically responsible investing, that we are taking a big risk by venturing outside of the perceived safety of the herd, but whatever the reason, investors and financial advisors are frequently tripped up by the question of performance, often even skeptical toward the growing amount of research data showing that good values and good returns are not mutually exclusive.
While one way to answer the concerns about performance is simply to point to the actual track record of biblically responsible investing funds, which you can research for free at inspireinsight.com, or to read the independent, academic research that analyzes the performance of biblically responsible investments relative to secular investments, which you can find on the research page at inspireinvesting.com, I want to address the performance question in a different light today, drawing from two passages in the New Testament.
Jesus had a unique way of calling people to follow Him. He just said, “follow me”. No cajoling, no convincing, no explaining, just a simple and authoritative call to follow. One of those encounters is the well-known story of Jesus calling His first disciples,
“While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers…and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.” (Matthew 4:18-22)
Another famous story of Jesus calling a man to follow him is the story of the rich young ruler, who comes to Jesus asking what he needs to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus tells him to follow the ten commandments, to which the rich man replies “all of these I have kept since my youth” (umm, really?). Jesus’ following reply was not what the young ruler was expecting to hear,
“…He said to him, ‘One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’ But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, ‘How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!’” (Luke 18:22-24)
In these two stories we find Jesus giving the call to leave what you have and follow Him, and two very different reactions to that call. The fishermen are called to leave their income, their livelihood and their business assets to follow Jesus, and their response is one of faith, “immediately they left their nets and followed him.” The rich young ruler is called to walk away from his earthly wealth and follow Jesus, and his reaction is one of sadness and disobedience.
Counting The Cost
Here is my point, sometimes (oftentimes?) Jesus calls people to make earthly sacrifices in order to follow Him by faith. Does Jesus call everyone to leave their business or sell all they have to follow Him? No, certainly not. But He does call some people to that, and if He is calls you there can be no room for deliberation, only counting the cost and immediately following Him.
Has the Lord pricked your heart about investing with biblical values? If you researched at inspireinsight.com and discovered that you were actively profiting from abortions and adult entertainment, would that bother your conscience? I would submit to you that is the Lord calling you to pursue biblically responsible investing for His glory and your joy. I would then submit to you that the question of a hypothetical performance sacrifice is irrelevant, because if God is calling you to switch your investments to biblically responsible investing, it does not matter what the cost is. Our only option, and indeed our greatest joy, is immediate obedience.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe and have experienced that Christians are not required to accept lower investment returns in order to invest biblically responsibly. But even if that was the case, or even if it somehow became the case in the future, does it matter? Would we reject the call of God because we are unwilling to give up performance potential? Or would we immediately drop our investments and follow Him?
Robert Netzly is the CEO of Inspire Investing and frequent contributor on The Christian Post, FOX, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, The 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.
Advisory Services are offered through CWM Advisors, LLC dba Inspire, a Registered Investment Adviser with the SEC.