My daughter Rebecca was in Uganda a few years ago. She was sharing the Gospel and providing midwifery services in rural communities. A man who was associated with Good News Unlimited, asked her why our ministry didn’t splash money around more liberally.
My daughter explained to him that we administered God’s money, and that we had to be careful with it. She went on to explain that we weren’t loaded with money and that I didn’t go around driving a nice, expensive car.
The man replied,
“Oh! I would never support a church or ministry where the pastor couldn’t afford to send his children to the best private schools and drive a nice new car!”
There is great poverty in Eastern Africa. There are also some strange attitudes towards money there, which I think are also reflected in many other parts of the world, in some way or another.
East Africa is full of beautiful people. However, it is widespread in Eastern Africa for there to be an expectation that if you are from the west, then you must have loads of money to share around. I’ve learnt to be very careful, since money there can easily disappear into endless levels of corrupt bribes and commissions.
On a separate occasion, an evangelist showed me his luxury home and expensive cars, and finished with, “These are the rewards for preaching the gospel.”
If that’s true, then I must be doing something seriously wrong, and every one of the apostles was damned to hell, because they never saw those kinds of rewards! How contrary these attitudes are to the experience and teachings of Christ and the apostles!
Have you ever noticed the words of Paul and Barnabas to the believers in Asia Minor in Acts 14:22?
We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God (NIV).
There’s a popular Christian teaching today that suggests that if you join and give to a particular church or ministry, that you will have an easy life. God’s blessings are interpreted as necessarily being such things as worldly prosperity, freedom from sickness, and superior relationships. But it doesn’t work that way.
If you want to have a comfortable Christian life, you might have a comfortable life, but you won’t have a Christian life.
A true Christian life is modelled on the life of Christ. Jesus was homeless. He had no pillow for his head at night (Luke 9:58). Jesus had no money to pay his taxes (Matt 17:24–27). He suffered the envy and slander of evil people. Jesus was mercilessly persecuted, and died naked, nailed to a cross.
It doesn’t mean that you’ll be homeless and be crucified; instead, it’s the principle here that matters. If you want to follow Jesus, there will be hardship and suffering. So, if it’s going to be like that, why continue to follow Jesus Christ? Consider this teaching of our Lord:
Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, 30 [a]but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in [b]the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:29–31, NIV).
Jesus gives us two reasons here to follow him. The first one is that if you have given up things in this life for his sake and the sake of the gospel, you will receive a hundred times more in this life than what you have given up. He doesn’t mean more of the same natural family or physical land; he means blessings of a different kind. And did you notice how he also slips in “along with persecutions” there? In other words, despite the hardships, what we will have in this life will be far better than what we had before. The second reason that Jesus gives us to follow him is because in the age to come, we will enjoy eternal life.
Here is the truth about the Christian life: If you want to have a comfortable Christian life, you might have a comfortable life, but you won’t have a Christian life. It’s not surprising that after Jesus had said these things to the crowds, they left him. Then note what happened:
Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?” (John 6:67, NLT).
Jesus asks you the very same question. What is knowing Jesus Christ and eternal life worth to you?
Article supplied with thanks to Dr Eliezer Gonzalez.
About the Author: Dr Eli Gonzalez is the Senior Pastor of Good News Unlimited and the presenter of the Unlimited radio spots, and The Big Question.