Image: Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I find myself increasingly frustrated these days watching the Church and what we often call ministry. As I grew in the faith, I begin pursuing Ministry as a means of helping people. I never sought to live in a mansion nor drive the finest cars…ministry to me was meant to be helping others, not myself. My goal was to devote my life first and foremost to ministering to people – that included helping as far as I could to meet their physical as well as spiritual needs. I have consistently pursued this calling for the past 38+ years.
Modern Christianity seems to have shifted from the concept from “what I can give” to “what can I get.“ People today do not go to church to serve but to be served. We ingrain this concept into our youth, teaching them by making sure they are well served in the church ‘youth ministry;’ we thus hear such nonsense as “If you have no youth ministry you have no church.” Exactly where is this taught in Scripture?
This mindset today has led to today’s concept of church as a form of entertainment. We are more concerned with the ‘production’ that entertains and fosters ‘growth.’
The other frustration I have stems from the lack of discernment I see among so many Christians. I personally attribute this to the lack of true discipleship done in the modern church. Most of the ‘ministry’ today is based around building numbers within a church, and most of this is not true church growth (winning and discipling people in Christ) but rather church shifting (getting person A to leave church B and attend church C).
In the process of all of this, we see little effort to fulfill a ministry as James defined it:
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?
James 2:14-16 (NIV)
To me the most nauseating statement I hear is often “I will pray for you…” Prayer is never a bad thing, but all too often it is used as a cop-out. Most of the time when someone vows to pray fro another they never give the issue another thought, let alone intercede for the other person. The rarest of Christians today are those who look at their material wealth and think of it as a tool God has given then to be a blessing to another. I have sat in Sunday School classes and heard how God immensely blesses someone with wealth and then later hear that person say that they will pray for their brother who is unemployed and needs a car to get to work or interviews. My thought is “God has blessed you with material ‘success,’ and you will PRAY for this person?”
James states that it is useless to claim faith in God and to approach needs in this way. The man of faith places feet to their prayers, and anything less is idolatry. If God has blessed you, then in the Christian economy you are His instrument for meeting needs. You are not here to drive the best of cars and live in the best of homes, and God has not blessed you for those purposes. You have been placed in a stewardship position and are to use God’s blessings as a means to meet needs of others: not to buy another boat.
Couple of Case Studies:
Compare and contrast, and decide who understands James 2:14-16 best.
- Successful salesman at high end auto dealership has a trade in worth $2,000 on the used car market. He gives the car to a Christian man in need of transportation.
- Another professing Christian living in a mansion and driving only the best of cars has an extra vehicle worth $2,000 on the used auto market and SELLS the car to another Christian in need of transportation.
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