Something a little different today. And be warned – this message may make you feel a little uncomfortable. But I make no apologies if it does, as that’s precisely the aim.
The ongoing saga regarding the paying of tithes has been raging-on for several weeks. At times I wondered whether it could be the beginning of the end for our ‘masters of the universe’ pastors. Not that I desire or not desire it, but because I’m particularly concerned about the ‘awakening’ of Pentecostal congregations.
By ‘awakening’ I mean just that – the day we finally wake-up to the grim reality that’s been staring us in the face for decades.
The fault lies not with the pastors, but with us.
The root causes of the relevance of a debate that shouldn’t even feature in our dreams, let alone our consciousness, are self-centeredness, greed, and fear.
We pay tithes, not because we want to give to God, but because we want God to bless us.
We pay tithes in order to help and serve our own interests.
We pay tithes not because we particularly want to, but because we ‘fear’ we’ll somehow be punished, if we don’t.
Whilst complaining to a friend about the incessant ‘God will bless you with this, and God will bless you with that’ sermons that one hears in way too many churches, and the lack of messages about the gospel, he (my friend) made a most succinct point.
“Segun, the problem is not the pastors. The problem is the people. In my church, whenever the pastor preaches the gospel, 99% of the congregation is half asleep. They’re not interested. But as soon as the pastor starts prophesying blessings, they all wake up. We are the problem.”
He couldn’t be more correct.
We’ve more-or-less rejected the gospel, in favour of the old testament, because it suits our self-centered desires.
Here’s a question for you;
If Africa suddenly became the most prosperous continent in the world, with zero unemployment, zero poverty, and a high GDP, do you think so many people would still be going to church every Sunday? Indeed, one could ask the same question regarding black neighbourhoods/churches across the world.
In other words, our reasons for going to church are self-motivated, as against seeking a relationship with God.
Dare I say it, but is this a black thing??
There’s a distinct similarity between what we’ve inadvertently desired and got, and what the Israelites requested for and got, when they insisted on having a king of their own, as against the Lord’s judges. The Lord told Samuel it was not he (Samuel) they were rejecting, but Him (God). In the same way, our thirst for personal riches and gains has led to an indirect rejection of the gospel, and a return to the facets of the old testament.
Christianity is centered on Jesus – not our ‘works’; not whether or not we pay tithes, and not what we get in return for adhering to certain principles and regulations. Jesus died for you because he loves you – not because of anything you’ve done, or are about to do, but simply because he loves you.
What we need is the message of the gospel. But unfortunately, what we’re getting is what we want – sermons regarding what we must do in order to be abundantly blessed.
It is the message of God’s unconditional love that can transform lives and territories.
His unconditional, and perfect love, obliterates fear, worry, and anxiety; and replaces them with joy, love, peace, and contentment.
God’s unconditional love encourages and enables us to always give with joy to those in need.
The message of Jesus’ love and sacrifice replaces self-centeredness with selflessness.
Whether we care to admit it or not, none of us can say we’re altogether happy with the present state of Pentecostal churches. If we’re truly honest, we often find ourselves feeling a little uncomfortable with certain things we hear and see.
The pastors cannot change if we continue to be the same.
Rather than blame the pastors, we must look within, and ask ourselves whether we seek an actual relationship with God, or merely the fine trimmings.
I keep asking this question, and have to do so again;
When did Christianity become about money???
It was never about money!!!
Finally, permit me to tell the story of a man who had everything, and then lost it all, only to find what was most important.
This South African christian, was a very successful businessman – personally worth well over £75m. He and his wife lived a jet-set life-style, and absolutely loved it – power, influence, wealth, and abundance (the things we so desperately seek on Sunday mornings).
Unfortunately, as a result of a transaction going horribly wrong, he lost everything.
To cut a long story short, over the next decade or so, he and his wife had to scrimp and scrape to survive. But during that period, he found more solace, comfort, and joy from the Lord, than ever before. So much so, that, as he said, “I lost everything, but found my faith.”
He’s now founded a prayer initiative that will radically change the lives of millions across the globe.
And his wife gave her life to Christ, just four years ago. Incredible!!
Money will come and go, but the Love of God will be with you forever.
Success, as the world knows it, will also come and go, but the greatest success of all is the fact that you’re God’s child – not because of anything you’ve done, or can do, but because of what Jesus has already done.
Isn’t it time we focus more on salvation’s eternity, as against the ‘moment’ of this world?
A time is coming when we’ll no longer be able to mention the name of Jesus in public places.
Will we align with the world, for the sake of wealth, power, and riches?
Or will we choose to stand up for our Lord, as He unceasingly does for us?
None of us can truly be sure of how we’ll respond when such a time comes. But what we can be sure of is that God’s Unconditional Love empowers us to cope with, and do things we never thought possible.