Monetizing Religion

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“Follow the money” is an old phrase that suggests that the truth will be found where you find the person who enjoys the financial benefits. Given that the “love of money is a root of all kinds of evil,” (1 Timothy 6:10) we need to be aware of how we think about it!  Do we mistakenly believe that having more will solve our problems? Are we connecting our worth as a person to the amount in our paycheck?  As we prepare our children for life are we encouraging them to find God’s will or just ‘make  a living?’

Bad things happen when religion gets tangled up with money!  In my own life as a pastor I struggle with the demands of the organization I serve always trying to keep fulfilling the mission of Christ and His kingdom more important than paying the bills. We need to find money to pay for the new roof, but that’s not the ‘why’ of our existence. Lord help us if we let it become that.  The Gospel must not become ‘big business’ though many do enrich themselves at the expense of God’s people!

Jesus saw it happening. John says, “When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!” (John 2:12-16, NIV)  Jesus was offended that the religious leaders had found a way to make themselves wealthy by exploiting those who came to worship.

Beware of ministries that put all the emphasis on collecting money! Ask questions. Look for financial accountability and transparency.

And …  we must also take care that we do not make our own faith in Jesus about money and things. An American corruption of the Gospel is called the ‘prosperity Gospel.’  The message is that God blesses those He loves and that we can trigger a greater flow of wealth for ourselves by giving more, praying better, having more faith, and doing good. One of America’s best known preachers wrote this in a best-selling book – “God has already done everything He’s going to do. The ball is now in your court. If you want success, if you want wisdom, if you want to be prosperous and healthy, you’re going to have to do more than meditate and believe; you must boldly declare words of faith and victory over yourself and your family.” (Your Best Life Now, Osteen)

Not a few of you are wondering what’s wrong with that, aren’t you?
The emphasis is in the wrong place. God invites us into His service, asks us for submission to lead us where He desires us to go. He real plans for you and me may or may not include prosperity!

Jesus says that those who would follow Him must ‘take up their Cross.’  Somehow, we have rewritten that into ‘receive your Crown.’  The Gospel has turned into a program to gain wealth and happiness.  Undoubtedly, Christians ought be to joyful, peaceful people – because they live in the center of God’s love and are full of hope.  Are you?  Or, have you  monetized your religion, making Jesus a source of more things?

Here is a hard question – do you love Jesus or do you love the life you believe that Jesus ought to provide for you?

  • Have you unconsciously turned your Christianity into a ‘quid pro quo’ relationship that insists that God pay up for your ‘service?’
  • God is not a deal-maker.  He does love to bless His children. He is a good Father, but He does what is best for us for eternity, not just for today.

The word from the Word today is a challenge to greater faith. Will you love Him enough to find to trust Him completely?

“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24, NLT)

“Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” (Hebrews 13:5, NLT)

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