Sunday, July 12, 2009

Faith Or Finances?

He instructed them to take nothing for the journey
Mark 6:8

This verse shows a contradiction to an idea very prevalent in the Church- that God's work requires money. Don't take this the wrong way; I am not trying to discourage giving. Neither am I denying the practical realities of ministry in a modern context. But in the final analysis ministry can be done without a dime. This is so because ministry is based on God's power and not our resources.

In today's Gospel we read of our Lord sending out the Twelve on their first evangelistic campaign. They were given authority to cast out demons and sent to preach repentance. Word and power combined in that the disciples did indeed call people to repent as well as cast out demons and heal the sick. They did all of this without an ounce of material resource at their disposal. Jesus specifically forbids them to take bread, bag, or money. Rather, they were to rely on the hospitality of those they would encounter. In truth, they were to rely on God alone.

It is not completely true that faith and finances are polar opposites. One may have a great amount of faith and resources as well. But often it is the case that the more material things we have, the less we tend to rely on God. We begin to think that we can handle it on our own.

At the risk of appearing to indict the Church, I wonder how closely we're listening to this message. The spate of fund-raising plaguing the Church right now is in direct proportion to a lack of faith- lack of faith on the part of the Church as a whole, many individuals notwithstanding. If we prayed like we only had God and nothing else, I believe we would see more of the power that is referenced in this passage. I believe the Church would be much more effective in Her mission to bring the Gospel to the nations.

Here in America we have plenty of money. That may sound ridiculous given the current economic climate. But by the world's standards, we still have a lot of money. We tend to see the biggest issues as financial ones. We also tend to think that the answer to most problems is to raise more money. However, the truth is that the biggest issues are spiritual, and that the answer to them is faith-filled prayer. A praying Church will accomplish so much more than one that is highly organized and financed.

Again, I am not trying to say that money has no place. A person's checkbook is a great indicator of his spiritual condition. The more one loves and worships God, the more he will find himself giving. Nevertheless, we have to free ourselves from our relying on money- our faith in it, if you will. Our ultimate trust can only be in one place. As long as it is our money, it cannot possibly be in God.

I invite all who read this to join with me in committing ourselves to prayer. In this let us petition our Lord for a renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit that those oppressed by unclean spirits will be delivered, the sick will be healed, and those lost in sin may find their eternal salvation through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us pray that our nation will be consumed by a spirit of repentance so that the healing power of God may flow through our land.

No comments: