Friday, July 16, 2004

RELIGIOUS RAMBLINGS

In spreading the Gospel message are we to meet the needs of the people first before delivering the message of salvation to them? Is this effetive evangelism? Should the church rely on government assistance in meeting the needs of the community?
 
One thing I could never understand about Evangelists is why do they(at least in my own experiences within the black church) only travel from church to church to deliver the Gospel message to people who, for all intents and purposes, are already believers? Isn't this a bit redundant, sort of the proverbial "preaching to the choir"? 
 
Why do so many pastors of mega-churches always preach to their own congregations but never go out on the street corners and spread the Gospel? Why do "mega-churches" even exist? Why don't they break off into smaller more intimate numbers in order to truly address the needs of the people? Can a Christian individuals' needs be met attending a mega-church? Why is there a trend of teaching Christians how to live better lives by getting more blessings from God? Why do most of the materials and messages given include giving tithes, offerings and pledging money to that particular "mega church" but rarely mentions giving money to the poor and needy on your own? Why is supporting a "ministry" emphasized as opposed to starting your own "ministry".
 
What about those pastors who go on television and promise great blessings of material wealth if you send in a financial "seed offering"? Usually in return for sending in your offering or tithe they promise to send you a genuine bottle of holy water from the land of Israel or a blessed handkerchief, or some other rediculous item. Is this real? Is it biblical for pastors and churches to be doing this? Does it work?
 
I receive letters like this in the mail all of the time, almost every week from various churches telling of how God is pooring out his spirit of wealth and health and financal blessings because of people giving certain amounts of money in exchange for such things as blessed blankets, or posters with an image that is supposed to be Jesus depicted on it, or baggies of sand from Jerusalem, or two pennies that are "blessed", to be placed in a pair of shoes and worn. I've even received envelopes that you put your "seed" offering in and sleep with under your pillow after praying over it and then send it in.
 
Do stuff like this work? Is this what salvation is all about, what you can give to God to get what you want from Him? As I mentioned before, I get pamphlets, flyers and newsletters riddled with bible verses promising wealth and prosperity or that you will receive the "promises of God", most of which are taken out of context.
 
What has happened to Christianity today? Where are the truth tellers? Or am I mistaken, is this the truth?


4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sad to say, I think this explains in part the current malaise in evangelisim. We are instructed to be a light to the world--that implies preaching/reaching out as the apostles did, in public places, as well as homes, synagouges et al. To my way of thinking, the megachurches are ornate bushels that let a lttle light trickle out via stained glass windows.

I still rember to this day, back in college at our local Baptist church one evening when there was a discussion about money, some wanted to upholster or put in cushions for the hardwood pews and the pastor leaned towards using it towards missions. Finally, a rich member stood up in front of all, somewhat exasperated and declared he would personally donate the $10k for cushions. That always struck me as self serving, but who was I to question it.

It struck me as false sacriface, because this rich guy would be the beneficiary, as well as the membership--but he was one of those aggitating for spending the church money on cushions in the first place, as oppsed to God benefiting from it. Sort of like the bowler who buys a bowling ball for his non-bowling wife for their anniversary.

Although I would hesitate to specifically relay my inner thots to such a giver on the spot, it would make for a good material as a "parable" in a sermon. the situation, to me, smacks of Ananias and his wife Sapphira, in Acts 5, when they sold a piece of land and then conspired to hold back a portion, give the rest to God and claim it was everything. Peter discerning the truth, cursed both who promptly gave up their ghosts.

As an aside, this re-emphasizes the point that as Christians, we can both invoke blessings/healing, as well as damnation/death. Strange as it may sound, sometimes it is easier to effect a curse than it is to move a mountain, that is how potent faith can be.

As for recieving "personal favors & powers" from God, the story of Simon, the magician, in Acts 8, is important to keep in mind when evaluating our motives.

Bottomline, tithing is not about reciprocal benefits, but earnest desire to further the Lord's work/objectives. In that sense, I would say that it would be better for the person to honestly tithe nothing than to do so for selfish/false reasons.

"For we wrestle, not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Eph 6:12"

To what degree is our Black socio-economic malaise self-inflected by selfishness, greed, victimology precisely due to the false teachings of giving to our heavenly Father in exchange for earthly rewards? Instead of studying to shew ourselves approved workmen and not ashamed, preachers urge us to give and let God take care of our situation(s). Instead of being struck dead, we recieve "blessings"--An old Jewish curse:"May you have an intersting life"--that are reflected back at us from God.

God bless

Andy
PS: I hope my thots came across well connected.

Jerry McClellan said...

They came across just fine. I agree with you, especially in regards to blacks being taught to give to get rather than giving as a mode of blessing others and as a way of giving thanks and expressing obedience to God.

Anonymous said...

thanks for articulating this so well. i'm tired of hearing about how much God wants to bless me, whatever happened to discipleship and becoming a friend of God?

i guess, i am that naive!

Jerry McClellan said...

Not naive at all. That is the truth and knowing the truth doesn't make you naive, it makes you wise. We have to start equipping oursevles with God's unadulterated word in order to combat such lies that have permeated our churches.