A couple of days ago, my husband and i were at the doctor’s office. We were waiting for our ride back to our appointment, and were having a conversation about the economic gap between rich and poor, a very common conversation for us. What differentiated this conversation was an “aha” moment. As we talked, I mentioned how these mega churches were busy “building bigger barns” and that’s when my “aha” moment happened.
If you don’t recall the parable Jesus told, I will put it here for you all to read:
16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:
The Rich Man’s Folly
Luke Chapter 12 : 16
17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?
18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.
19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.
20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
22 And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.
23 The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.
24 Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?
25 And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?
26 If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?
27 Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
28 If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?
29 And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind.
30 For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.
31 But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.
32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
33 Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.
34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
35 Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;
36 And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.
37 Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.
38 And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.
39 And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through.
40 Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.
It has long bothered me that we have mega churches with so much poverty in this country. Yes, the poverty is everywhere but I live in the United States, so for the purposes of this blog, I will keep it “in my own backyard”. I believe it is encumbant upon the church to alleviate as much suffering as possible. It is dishonoring to God to hoarde what he has given and I pray that conviction will descend on these churches that are defying him to his face.
For those who ask, who are you? I say this, I am a watcher. I have no money, no fame, no fortune to my name. What I do have is a profound love for my God and my fellow man. Though imperfect, I am willing to do what I have to, to further the kingdom of God and am stepping out in boldness and faith. It takes a lot of courage to do anyting these days, to take a stand. All around us, people are opposed to any stand you take, if said stand goes against the word of God, whether one believes in it word verbatim or in it as a roadmap through life (they’ are not mutually exclusive) and makes you politically incorrect.
Taking care of our fellow man is not a matter of the law or the government, at least it shouldn’t be; it’s a matter of right and wrong, not an issue to be shoved off into the hands of people who don’t care one way or another. Because of the nature of our political landscape, it’s become a very cold world, and many, many people are dying and suffering who could be helped. There’s a huge discrepency between rich and poor. There are the 1%ers, as they say- those who own the majority of the money, the influence, and the property. Then there are the 99%ers – those who struggle to get by, pay for the lifestyle of the rich and famous (by going to see their movies, listen and buy their music, sport, etc.; and buy the products advertised, whether we need them or not), and, sadly, this is no different in the church than anywhere else.
To put things into perspective, let me show you what I mean:
Here’s a list of mega churches in this country and their numbers:
None of this would not be a problem were it not for two primary issues that arise out of it. The first issue that arises is the discrepency between the rich and the poor. How can a preacher or pastor stand up and talk about God providing for us all when they’re hoarding the wealth, not paying taxes (as commanded by God – Render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar…Mark 12:17) and so far removed from their people that they could probably have the same member for 20 years and never even realized that person exists past their initial joining. The second issue that arises is the impact that the mega church has on the world in general, which is already looking for reasons to dismiss God out-of-hand. Add a mega church into the mix with its cold, calculating, materialistic nature and who wants to join the family of God and what for when the options are 1) they don’t know you 2) they don’t care about you and 3) you’re only as valuable as the amount of money you sink into their organization (and if you don’t have any, they likely don’t know you even exist and so have no time for you at all). None of these reasons are representative of the God who’s supposed to care about us personally.
Don’t misunderstand me: I have no problem with people making money. I have no problem with wealth. If there wasn’t such a huge inconsistancy between rich and poor, I would say, do your thing but that’s not the case.
Can a church claim to be fiscally responsible and preach about money to people when there is this level of poverty? Can they say that the level has nothing to do with them and that they should be able to accumulate all the wealth they want to when we’re supposed to be loving God and our neighbor as ourself?
As the body of Christ, we need to return to the basics. We are all, individually and collectively, responsible for each other. We’ve lost sight of this fact and we’ve drifted so far away from it for so long that we no longer regard our neighbor as our neighbor, but rather another person whom we decide whether or not we want to associate with depending on whether we “approve” or “disapprove” of their thoughts, lifestyle, or behavior. The fact that we’re family seems to have been forgotten.
So, what do I want to come about as a result of this post? In my mind, this is what I want: I want the church to either start paying taxes or to take the taxes that they WOULD be paying to invest in alleviating the homeless problem. There are a lot of creative people in this country – put your creativity into action. Stop hoarding and share. The only reason I wish I had resources would be to share. That’s it. You can’t take your wealth with you and when you go, you leave a lot of resources behind that could go to care for others.
I doubt anything will change although I stubbornly retain hope. I have faith in God; very little in man. My job is to be obedient to the urging of my Spirit, which I have done. What happens from hereon out rests with God. I learned a long time ago that sales, of any kind, is not my strength. Fortunately for me, God is alot bigger than I am and the Spirit is not bound by time and distance.
Remember, no man is an island. Share with your fellow man and remember that if the shoe were on the other foot, you’d want others to share with you!