Years ago I visited the church I had attended growing up. I was not interested in what the preacher was saying because it was obvious he really had no personal experience with God to make me want to listen to his canned sermon. But God works in mysterious ways and at the end of the service when the congregation was singing the ‘invitational hymn’ a young boy, maybe in his late teens, came down the isle in tears. It was obvious that God was dealing with his heart and the boy was doing what he thought was right. The preacher made him a church member. He offered him the ‘right hand of christian fellowship’ and asked the congregation to come and welcome the young man on their way out. He didn’t have a clue. The preacher, I mean. Here was a young person that was either under great convictioin about his life or had made the choice to give up his sinful life and receive the Spirit of God into his heart. This church leader was oblivioius to what was happening. He was ordained by the denomination and making a living at his job, but he was unable and unqualified to meet the boy’s need. He did, though, have a nice house and a nice car.
This church was just small potatoes compared to some ‘mega churches’ of today. We can see on tv some of these large churches and their preachers. Many of these preachers don’t have a clue as to the ministry of God in the earth. But they make a bunch of money. A lot of money. It may be hidden in church administration or church business but some of these guys are very rich. Look at Richaard Roberts of ORU. He didn’t do a very good job of hiding his taste of the rich life, neither do a number of others, but it’s just something that’s not talked about. The expensive suits, perfect hair and constant smile without joy, can be deceiving but in the end show the pride of life. They, in their pride, cannot meet the real needs of others.
As I remember the scriptures in 1 Pet. 2:22, 23, we, as christians, have an example to follow. “…because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps..”. The example Jesus set was not one of luxury and self indulgence. Just how the ministry was financed I don’t know. Needless to say, His Father took care of their needs just as He does ours (whether we give appreciation for this or not). What ever the case, He and His disciples didn’t have a whole lot, as shown when He had Peter catch a fish and take money out of its mouth to pay their taxes (see Mat. 17:27). Jesus and His disciples did have a house in Capernaum from where the ministry took place (Mat. 9:10, 13:1, Mk. 2:1). Mostly He and those with Him walked to where ever they were going. The didn’t go by the Lexus chariot company’s latest model. They got their feet dirty on dusty roads, got thirsty and at the height of His popularity Jesus road on a donkey. God, as promised, met their need, not their greed.
The point here is that our Example did not give us an example of a rich life style. He practiced and taught a life of giving, not getting. It seems today many preach about how to get worldly blessings from God. Or, their saying God is to serve us, when we are, of course, to be serving Him. As a matter of fact this is what Jude severly criticized in vs :4 where he said, “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” And in vs :11, “… for they have gone the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward…”. Jude goes on with strong condemnations of these type of church leaders. As does Peter and also John. The ‘prosperity message’ preached by so many, has taken the point of God’s desire for His people and pointed it to prospering themselves instead of the life of giving and sacrifice that was our exemple.
Remember this, that Jesus is coming back for a “…glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:27). These others are “…spots…and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you…” (2 Pet. 2:13). The scriptures speak much more about these ungodly men (and women, now). Be aware that friendship with the world is not compatible with a Christ centered life. “Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world, they increase in riches.”(Ps. 73:12)