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THE POWER OF MONEY
By Paul Proctor
May 17, 2003
There’s nothing in the bible about Jesus or the apostles ever soliciting money from those they preached to. Despite the fact that it’s vulgar, offensive and counterproductive to the cause of Christ, televangelists and others like them have been doing just that and more for eons. You see, it takes a lot of money to keep a face on TV and I suppose many of them see that as somehow good for God.
But you know, even on that one occasion that money was needed to pay the temple tax, Jesus sent Peter to get it from the mouth of a fish rather than the pocket of a man. I never really understood that until recently. And as we watch the mass marketing of Christianity soar beyond the shameless and despicable, that story begins to make perfect sense.
In no way am I suggesting that we should withhold monetary support from all things evangelical or that we should use the past abuses of Christian con men as an excuse for our own delinquency. Frankly, some of the most unchristian Christians I know hypocritically point to the hypocrisy of the church as their reason for staying away and not supporting it – in effect, using the sins of others to justify their own. My last church, in all its apostasy, provided me just such an opportunity. But with the Lord’s help and guidance, I was delivered FROM IT instead of being discouraged and defeated BY IT. Like many of you, I have given to various ministries and mission efforts over the years and have come out of those experiences with a little more insight and understanding than I had going in.
A couple of friends from that former church, who had been overseas for a time doing mission work, called my wife up one day, out of the wild blue, to say “they wanted to get together and visit with us.” Even though I suspected an ulterior motive, (a learned behavior, I guess), I gave them the benefit of the doubt and agreed to meet over lunch. We weren’t real close friends, mind you but we were certainly more than just acquaintances.
After an hour or so of endearing small talk, laughter and light-hearted conversation, our “friends” finally got around to the point. They wanted to know if we would be interested in supporting their ministry overseas both financially and prayerfully. Well, I must say, it was amazing how the endearing small talk, laughter and light-hearted conversation that flowed so freely from their lips all afternoon dwindled away as soon as I politely responded that we would only be able to support them prayerfully.
Oh – I suppose I could have said that we would think about it, pray about it and get back to them later with an answer; but after watching them work us like a couple of seasoned grifters, I really didn’t see the need. No, they weren’t rude or even offended by my answer but I think it’s worth noting that they left shortly thereafter and to my recollection have never called or written us since. That’s been almost two years ago and frankly, under the circumstances, I’m really glad they haven’t.
I tell this story only to illustrate the subtle dishonesty and deceit that permeates the church today even among the nicest of people. The kind of behavior those “friends” exhibited was something I would expect from a car salesman, an insurance agent or an Amway rep, not a brother or sister in Christ.
I’ll go a step further and state this for the record: It troubles me deeply that the standard operating procedure for many missionaries today is to enter a hostile country under false pretence and masquerade as something other than what they really are for purposes of evangelism. It’s one thing to bring the gospel into a dark and foreign land while legitimately doing business there and quite another to be a secret agent living a double life under a cloak of secrecy for the “cause of Christ”. Yes; I know we’re talking about saving souls here and yes; it takes a lot of courage to spread the gospel in an antagonistic environment. But, can the redeemed legitimately lie and deceive their way through the mission field while representing a just and holy God?
How can we teach righteousness to the lost through the unrighteous behavior of the saved? And by doing so, aren’t we really operating under some other power and influence than the Holy Spirit? Does evangelism now render the truth expendable? And are we suggesting to our prospective converts that the grace of God and the gospel of Christ come with a license to cheat? If such behavior is acceptable overseas, then is it OK for other religions to do it here in America as well? Maybe obeying the laws and authorities as Paul described in Romans 13 only applies to our own home country – Hmmm?
If the church is not getting the “results” (i.e., blessings) it thinks it ought to be getting, maybe it’s because we’ve chosen, in all our craftiness, to attempt a holy thing in an unholy way. David did in 1st Chronicles 13:7-11 and it cost Uzza his life.
In the April 23 issue, World Net Daily reported that Time magazine was working on a “major cover piece” that would disclose the covert operations of Christian missionaries overseas evangelizing in Muslim countries. Many Christian leaders and organizations voiced outrage, fearing that such a story would put missionaries in grave danger by revealing their modus operandi to governing authorities.
In an accompanying article, WND reprinted the following excerpt from a memo obtained via World Magazine describing the shrewd way some missionaries operated:
“Often, to avoid detection by authorities, this new breed employs a tactic called 'tentmaking' or 'tunneling.' Essentially, this means doing some kind of other work as a cover or pretext, when you real goal is preaching. A healthy handful of schools in the U.S. actually teach such techniques.”
Let’s get something straight. The Apostle Paul made tents on occasion during the course of his missionary journeys in order to support himself and pay his own way SO HE WOULDN’T BE A FINANCIAL BURDEN TO OTHERS AND HAVE TO ASK THEM FOR MONEY – not so governments and ruling authorities wouldn’t know that he was really a Christian missionary. This is just one more pragmatic perversion being promoted by a misguided lust for “results.”
What about Jesus? Did He lie to the Roman Empire about who He was and why He came? And did He deceive the scribes and Pharisees in Jerusalem as to His real purpose for being there? Sure, He spoke to them in parables and yes; most did not understand Him. But it wasn’t because Jesus was deceiving THEM but rather because THEY were trying to deceive Jesus in their wickedness and cunning. In other words, it was their own faithlessness that rendered them blind and deaf, not Jesus’ guile.
Now, back to the money. We already know from the scriptures that even before Jesus was crucified, He sent the twelve out to heal infirmities, cast out demons and preach the Kingdom of God. But I can find no scriptural evidence of the Lord instructing His followers to seek out, solicit or even secure financial help for the work He gave them to do. Moreover, upon sending them, they were instructed to leave their money and possessions behind. Why – because as long as they relied on the power of money and the things it could buy they would never rely the power of God.
“Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece.” – Luke 9:1-3
© 2003 Paul Proctor - All Rights Reserved
Paul Proctor, a rural resident of the Volunteer state and seasoned veteran of the country music industry, retired from showbiz in the late 1990's to dedicate himself to addressing important social issues from a distinctly biblical perspective. As a freelance writer and regular columnist for NewsWithViews.com, he extols the wisdom and truths of scripture through commentary and insight on cultural trends and current events. His articles appear regularly on a variety of news and opinion sites across the internet and in print. Paul may be reached at email@example.com
"I tell this story only to illustrate the subtle dishonesty and deceit that permeates the church today even among the nicest of people."
"How can we teach righteousness to the lost through the unrighteous behavior of the saved? And by doing so, aren’t we really operating under some other power and influence than the Holy Spirit? Does evangelism now render the truth expendable? And are we suggesting to our prospective converts that the grace of God and the gospel of Christ come with a license to cheat?"