Continued from Part 2
For some that have read the first two posts, maybe you are bothered because some of it seems so condemning—especially since much of it is speaking to Christian people. Like I’ve said many times already, there is no intention to minimize the grace that God has gifted us with. My purpose is to help us see the other side of the coin. I’m afraid that our God has not been well represented by us—His people. There are things in the Bible that way too many of us are avoiding purposely because they cross with what we really want.
We live a life of selfish gratification—even in our church life, and I’m not just referring to Sundays. Let me provide you an example. How far has the “prosperity gospel” taken us out into left field? We have put so much emphasis on it that it has pulled us away from what true Christianity is all about. Is wealth wrong? No! The Bible doesn’t say that “money is the root of all evil,” as some teach. The Bible says that the LOVE of money is the problem, and it will destroy us.
We have churches that put so much emphasis on money that it becomes the main topic of what is taught. People give testimonies about how God has blessed them and how they could now buy some mansion, yacht or exotic sports car, or maybe even finance the “revival capitol of the world.” (I’m incensed when I hear someone claiming that title for themselves—and I have!. The catch is always that we need to plant a seed into someone’s ministry. The principle is Biblical but it has been greatly abused. Many measure spirituality by how much God blesses financially, and then use it as a show to the world of how God likes to bless His kids. There are also many who judge the maturity of someone else’s walk with God by how “blessed” they are! This whole idea of God’s blessings given to His followers has been distorted by the father of lies. It was never meant for us to lavish all on ourselves! Is God against us enjoying His blessings? Of course not! But, do we forget that God quite often—in fact usually, blesses us in extraordinary ways so that we can meet a special need that He is about to show us?
Most Americans pull down every dollar possible in order to buy a bigger boat, a bigger motor home, more recreational toys, more expensive homes, and everything imaginable. I’m not saying that we never enjoy God’s special provisions, but I do hope that we realize that God does a whole lot of providing so that we can have the blessing of being part of a miracle for someone else! It should also be done without some big public show to bring fleshly honor to someone’s generosity! God is the One that keeps record, and that is enough! For us to make a big show of what we do in the Lord’s Name shows our spirituality!
So, how about you? How are you going to answer for the blessings given to you by the ONE that provides for you, even if it is in a desert where nothing grows? Think it through…
We have taken today’s “prosperity gospel” and turned it into our own Golden Calf that we bow down to. This is not a lot different than what the Israelites did in the Old Testament. Have we forgotten that this life here is very short? Have we forgotten that 70 years, if we last that long, is nothing at all next to eternity? Do we realize that the raise in our paycheck amount may have been God’s way of blessing a worthy ministry somewhere? How many children in a Christian orphanage can be supported with a few dollars a month? What are we going to do with all the things we have accumulated in this life when we die? How many may have died without having basic needs met that God had intended us to be part of? It’s sobering.
I wonder about something else, and I’m bound to butcher a sacred cow here besides stirring up some unrighteous indignation. How is it that we here in America have the idea that we need to build churches that are little different than the palaces of kings? We say, “God’s work deserves the best!” That’s such a bunch of bunk! It sounds great and of course God does deserve the best. That doesn’t mean that a church should spend hundreds of thousands, or millions in many cases, to pay for a building complex that could have been built with much less extravagant excess, thereby having money available for missionary work or programs that help the poor, etc. “Well, we do all that too!” But, there is never a lack of poor people, and never a lack of good genuine ministries that are in great need. Most are just barely scraping by and the people that are putting their lives on the line, literally have nothing—while we live like kings!! Spending the church income in this way of course would not bring the same recognition when attending denominational conferences where everyone always asks, “What’s YOUR attendance running these days?” What is YOUR annual budget? Those that are struggling are embarrassed to answer, and the ones that are doing well, lie anyway by stretching the numbers beyond what they really are. I’ve been in conferences where the affluent churches exercise their power over the “lesser” ones, and they usually get their way in the corporate decisions. Is that any different than the politics in congress that we profess to hate? What’s the matter with us?
I’m not putting myself into a place of deciding who should build what, but I’d be willing to wager that the whole world could already have been evangelized with the money we have wasted on overly expensive church complexes—many of them costing in the multiplied tens of millions. What a sham!!
Pastors today too often make their decisions on what pastorate or position they are going to take by what it pays, or what benefits are offered, or how well this position will aid us in our “ladder climbing”, as we head for the top! Jesus made it quite clear what God’s opinion of that attitude was, and He castigated the Pharisees for it. The church today, or at least way too high of a percentage of it, is NO DIFFERENT! We have forgotten what humility really is! We have forgotten what repentance really means! We see “holiness” as something belonging to a past generation or two. Sad, because we will be judged for it. Not only that, the world around us is crying out for the genuine—not the phony theological rambling that comprises most sermons anymore these days.
Because of the fact that we cannot produce what the early church did, we mimic the world around us and have to conjure up excitement, and then call it “spiritual”! We can’t hang onto people in church and so have to bring in big names, Hollywood stars, great theologians, well known speakers, etc. WE NEED TO GET BACK ON OUR KNEES AND GET AS DESPERATE AS JACOB WAS IN THE OLD TESTAMENT! NOTHING SHORT OF THAT WILL SUFFICE TODAY!
Before I close this segment, I want to make it clear that there is nothing wrong with special programs, special speakers, or the like. Let’s just make sure that it is not an attempt to draw a crowd because our own commitment and prayerful intercession did not do the job! With God, second best is as good as last place!
God Bless You All,
To Be Continued…