THE CHURCH MUST NOT LOSE FOCUS BECAUSE OF MONEY
The Church was established by Christ to reflect the heavenly home on earth. The Church is expected at all times to do the bidding of God on earth. The Church is called to shine as a light to the world, leading people to the truth and portraying the unique culture and eternal life of Gods Kingdom.
The Church and her mission are distinct and contrary to the worldly way of life. It is an embodiment of the virtues God desires from the people He created in His image and likeness. The Churchs desire and purpose is to teach the world morals, to call the world to a godly lifestyle, to correct wrongs, and to put people right with God.
Today, there is a wind blowing against the Church the desire to get rich, especially in materials things; the drive for funds for personal and unnecessary projects. In the light of the new wave of evangelism, the Church must at all times depend on Gods wisdom and resources to achieve her mission on earth. A saying goes that God funds His projects or missions on earth. We ought to live with that in mind.
The Church must not be anxious about how to raise funds for the work of God because God has resources stored up for the accomplishment of His purpose. Instead, the Church should ask for Gods guidance on ways to tap into the storeroom of Gods resources. We must not be like Saul who was more concerned and passionate about offering God sacrifice rather than obeying Gods command. Today, the scripture is questioning us, Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? (1 Samuel 15:22a NRSV).
Irrespective of our answers to the question, the scripture informs on what is right to do: Surely, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is no less than divination, and stubbornness is like iniquity and idolatry (1 Samuel 15:22b-23a NRSV). Therefore, there is nothing wrong with rejecting gifts or offerings got from unholy ventures like embezzlement of community funds, drug pushers, fraudsters, and all questionable characters. Even if they offer to erect a church building from their ill-gotten gain, reject them just like God rejected the sacrifice of Saul.
At no point in time should the Church lose faith in Gods ability to fund His project, the Churchs mission on earth. Whilst the world is desperate to acquire resources, the Church must depend on Gods supply. She must source funds in a morally integrous manner without scandalizing the Church or the Christ she represents. The Church must not lose focus or drift away from her mission because of money. The willingness of the shepherds of the gospel of Christ to serve must not to be hinged on money or the love of it. They must at all times be motivated by the same love Christ has for His flock. They must live simple and humble lives just like our master, Jesus Christ. They must not be flamboyant or extravagant. They must teach and encourage their followers to do the same.
The Church must not raise funds with a deceptive mind. The Church must not exploit her members for frivolous activities that are not in line with Gods purpose or desire. The Church must obey God principle of giving pleasing and acceptable offerings to God. Funds must not be raised in a coercive, deceptive or misleading manner in the name of God or His mission.
The true shepherds of the Household of God must not dilute or bend the message of the scripture because of money. The Church must not give honour to those whose sources of income are questionable. The Church must be more concerned about the spiritual states of her members than the money they are willing to offer. Fundraising or contributions must not create avenues for discrimination or for people to seek vainglory.
In our Christian Churches and ministries today, more emphasis is place on scriptural passages promoting seed sowing, tithe sowing and offering. More energy seems to be directed towards fund raising and all attention seems to be focused on structural developments or reconstructions. Meanwhile, the main message of the Gospel- The message of love, repentance and reconciliation has been whittled down in many Churches or ministries.
More songs are rendered during offerings to motivate people to give for a particular purpose which may be genuine or deceptive. More enthusiasm is given to things that will make us comfort in this world while losing sight of the heavenly glory. More energy is directed towards achieving vainglory rather than Gods glorification or approval. More passion is shown for wealth and materialism rather than the expression of love for one another and a desire to be saintly on earth.
Ministries are unconcerned if the money offered during services come from justifiable sources. That is, if the money are blemished or unblemished. Today the prosperity message seems to be order of the day. We must come to term with the truth, that the problem in the world is not the lack of wealth to sustain the world but the lack of love in the hearts of men and women. Hence the Scripture:
With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow before God most high? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with myriad streams of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my crime, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? You have been told, O mortal, what is good, and what the LORD requires of you: Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:6-8 TAB).
The Church must not be oblivious of the truth that offering is a show of reverence and thanksgiving to God for His awesomeness and supremacy over all living and non-living things. Offering is a holy sacrifice to honour and glorify the Lord of the harvest for His infinite mercy and love. It is a show of gratitude to God Almighty and must be rendered in humility and with a sincere heart. Offerings must be rendered to God in all humility because the scripture says silver and gold belong to God (See Haggai 2:8).
The ministers of the gospel of Christ must not focus on how to enrich themselves in material things but to prepare the world for the coming of the Lord. The ministers of the Church must have an utmost goal far more than building mansions on earth. Winning souls for the everlasting mansionHeavenwhere Christ is seated at the right hand of God Almighty must be our overriding concern.
The Church must stand out and beam her light on the world to dispel the darkness in the hearts of men and women. If fraudulent men and women or those who got their money by ungodly means are given honour in our ministries, we would only be institutionalizing evil in the society. We would be telling others it is good to venture into unholy means of getting rich. We must not be shy to rebuke evil. Many are afraid to speak the truth in order not to lose fat pockets or members. Hence, the evil in the world seems untamable.
It is the duty of the ministers of the gospel to make sinners uncomfortable in sin. It is the responsibility of the pastors and prophets of the Church to tell their members to abandon the way of unrighteousness and to embrace the path of Life. It is the job of the rabbis to rebuke all evil ways of acquiring money and not to honour those who use evil devices to get rich. It is the obligation of the evangelists of the Good News to reject blemished offerings and accept or encourage the offering of unblemished gifts. If you cannot discern between the two, seek Gods wisdom to be able to differentiate between them. As we do this, let us:
Wait upon the Lord: wait upon Him patiently; wait upon Him by avoiding all sin. He will come; doubt it not. To this firm hope, join the practice of virtue, and even in this life you will begin to taste the ineffable joys of Paradise. St Bernard.
What kind of offering do you offer to God: blemished or unblemished? Which do you think God prefers: your gifts or a life of holiness? Has God changed His mind on the way to offer Him acceptable offerings, i.e. unblemished offerings? Why are you in ministry: to do Gods bidding or your bidding?
Heavenly Father, You are a holy God. Help us who are Your children, created in Your image and likeness, to live holy lives, and to render You holy and acceptable offerings to Your honour and the fulfillment of Your mission on earth. Amen.
Jesus Christ Speaks
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35 NRSV).