Church, Money and the Public

Much have been said and many have heard. Little are helped, but many more are not clear. These are the realities I have observed in the wake of online talks and counter-talks involving the church, money, and the public. One may have noticed that some try to sit on the fence either in indifference or in fear, it is important to note that there is no such fence. They are on a side. Those who have written several notes or commented, either condemning financial wrecklessness among church leaderships, or voicing allegiance for their leader no-matter-what, are doing so while taking a stand. Either on the church or on the public side. It follows that this piece also is an outlook from a statutory point; the church. It doesn’t seek to stop the debate, rather to help those on this side to see what they oppose or defend avidly vividly. And perhaps make the public see what is really on this side before equally choosing whether to criticize or defend it.

The church- clearly put is a public, organized body of Christ; who is the head of it. Without Christ, there ceases at the same moment to be anything called Church. Christ is the blood and bone of the church. It is made up of believers who have been secretly or inwardly, and mysteriously redeemed and now publicly called Christians. They live by the Bible, which also is in the public. The history of the church is public. Very accessible. The purpose is public too; the Gospel, that Christ saves sinners. Now, there are gifted, appointed and elected leaders in this body who oversee the missions and the purpose. I believe everyone who has at least a sense humanity will agree that these fully dedicated people who have given up everything else should not become destitutes. Neither will the works (both human building or project execution) they oversee run on nothing. There is something that is needed ‘secondarily’ in both cases. Money.

Money. No organization on earth can run without it for wages, welfare, and buildings, infrastructures, bills and capital expenses. Not even the church! This is no secret and should not be shrouded as such. Every Christian earns and uses it independent of the church for diverse domestic and commercial purposes just like every human being (Acts 20:34, 11Thes 3:10-12). As it is a common currency and an inevitable material link between the church and the world, it is same between the individual believer and the world as long as he is on planet earth. Money is realised and spent. The only discordant point I suppose, is the manner of earning and spending.

The public is the target and mission of the church. The church is ‘responsible’ for the salvation of the public. Not a marketplace to display its goods in exchange for money or gifts, rather it is that vast expanse of farmland where several different plants can be taken and grafted into one single wondrous stem; the vine, Jesus Christ. The public is the courtroom full of people where the church makes a defense for Christ as witnesses here on earth. The church here is not the solicitor, neither is it the judge. Simply a witness. On the other hand, the public is made up of all people; Christians and non-Christians, learned and illiterate, ignorant and noble. Money is an essential commodity in the public, both in the hands of unbelievers and believers alike. The public doesn’t need to come into the gathering of the church to earn money, it needs to come to Christ. Neither does the church need go into the public to seek or earn money.

Now, this inter-relation is the crest of the current tide, and I believe strongly that it is a misunderstanding of the roles of either side. The government of the church is on the shoulder of Christ, who has taught us to go into the world and preach the gospel of righteousness, peace and joy to all nations and not denying the same Gospel in the process. His words ring out loud enough that godliness with contentment is great gain, that men cannot receive salvation by giving gifts or offerings, and that we should not try to manouevre things because the gospel is the power of God unto salvation, that the way to truth is relative to Christ and Him alone. That He is the one that supplies us all things richly to enjoy therefore we should not trust in wealth or money but in Him. Nor pursue after the corruptible wealth but rather the incorruptible treasure. God.

He warned us before sending us out that His living words are enough to build or cause any believer to mature and not endless money-raking anniversaries, thanksgivings, church clubs, meetings and so on. Oh Jesus said Martha, thou art troubled, laboured, taken-up, busy, beaten down, anxious, expended over many things, but one thing, just one thing; the word, is needful and Mary has chosen it and it shall not be taken away from her. Salvation and spiritual growth are not attained by dwelling on the imperfections of men in the Church but looking intently unto Him the author and finisher of your faith. The apostles remembered not to misplace priorities by saying we shall not leave the ministry of prayer and the word and serve tables.

Then, I speak to those beloved hearts on this side (living together in this spiritual house) who have been distressed so much and have voiced or penned their righteous concerns either to defend the church and its leaders or from a pulpit or online, denounce the hypocrisy of financial impropriety. And to the supporters and opponents of these who are Christians. Jesus loves you all. Yes, He loves your righteous heart. And don’t be scared, you have barely ‘touched’ God’s anointed, perhaps because they barely read your honest musings, and if at all, the man of God probably heard and is making adjustments or his heart cries out to God in love as Steven cried Lord do not count this against them.

But you know we really cannot defend the church or its leaders. How do we defend the church not made with human hands or ink? Or its leaders appointed by God or elected by grace? No. Jesus Christ is the builder of the church. He is the master builder and he surely does so perfectly. He paints the church in His color not us. We can only defend our faith. The church has not stood the test of time and oppositions by mere politics, diplomacy or because of the piety of one man-of-God, but the durability and strength is solely the dynamic work of the Holy Spirit from God. Therefore, if any leader (whether popular or infamous, affluent or lower class) becomes errant and need be corrected, let him hear it. Speak it to his ears in the council of elders if you have a seat there. But do not sit in the seat of the scornful. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees to their ears. Paul spoke to Peter directly. The apostles called themselves together with Paul in attendance to discuss the Gentile’s salvation. Paul and Peter wrote epistles to the church and said it should be read to the hearing of all (mature and immature Christians alike), not to be read by a clique.

But then again, we should not war against the church or its leaders. Our real enemy is the devil, not flesh and blood. We should resist him squarely not only in congregational matters but in individual living. The stones should be cast from the public, not from within our precious “glass house”. And such persecution should not be because a believer stole, does evil, or prys into private lives as busybodies or impostors, but only and only for the name of Christ in which he believes. Nay, we should not bring the name of our Lord to shame before men. Rather whatsoever we do in words (as in this write-up) or deed, do in the name of the Lord. And I know that if those whose god is their belly are bent on continuing on a campaign of flesh and worldliness, thereby dishonoring the glorious body, God Himself, the perfect Judge will reward them accordingly wherever they are; whether in Lalupon or Lagos, Texas or Taipei, Idanre or Indiana. They will reap from the field they have sown and have watered. Amen.

To the public, truth is, God owns all silver and gold: wealth. Because God rains on both good and evil is why a believer can be very rich just as you can. Our God tells us not to be a burden on others but to work with your hands and if any man does not work, let him not eat. And to the degree he works, he will have the reward of his labour. He would reap from the ears of corn he planted. And in here, we do not muzzle the oxen that threshes the corn. Moreover, our God can turn ordinary water into the best wine, five loaves to feed thousands and abundantly bless us more than we can even ask or think. But that is not our appeal to you. Our appeal is Christ who ably reconciles you with God. God Himself invites you to himself. We owe you nothing more than the gospel of Christ; the love of God. It was this gospel that the great apostles of our faith -Peter and Paul- defended publicly when tried. That was all they had and that was what they defended. Jealously. They had not devised any cunning words to entice men. No fables. No personal gains, enrichment or glory. The church of my Lord Jesus is not a cult of hypocrites. Though our life is hidden with Christ in God, our witness is written in the hearts of men and before all men. Our works are not in the dark. Church, this is our mission and voice to the world; Come, within your heart, turn your gaze from death to life. Look up to Him who can stand sure as the author and perfecter of your faith.

Finally, someone may say “I’m confused, there are false prophets, false teachers, false so and so… everywhere”, but I tell you there have been false prophets before Christ came, after Christ ascended, and there will always be. Ever. So don’t get worked up over that. All you need is to be vigilant. Be watchful. Listen to the voice of your conscience. Be careful of what you hear. And perhaps teach others the truth that you know. However, peradventure in your local assembly, you perceive something foul and offending and you really cannot do anything about it but you are choking and dying, please, maybe you need to move. Yes, move. As much as the assembly of saints brings emotional ties, its primary and most needful function is your building up. Quietly seek the fresh green pasture your soul desires. Grace and Peace.

With my own hands @bamsky007

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