Josh j Smith

Indecent Exposure
June 10, 2009, 1:34 pm
Filed under: religion

A struggling economy is not fun.  But with any suffering comes the revelation of truth that show us our destructive patterns of living.  The most obvious, coming from a monotheist who believes in Jesus, is our love of money.  What sickens me, is how our love of money has influenced how we are the Church, the people of God who are meant to be the presence of God.  The people who are to show the world that Jesus is enough and that man does not live on money alone but on Jesus.

If Jesus says the love of money is the foundation of evil and we cannot serve both money and God, then why have we made money the foundation of who we are, the means of what we do, and now, the sword that brings dissension and despair to many local churches?  This recession reaches beyond the Church, but through recession God is saying to us,

“I myself will lift up your skirts over your face, and your shame will be seen.  I have seen your abominations, your adulteries and neighings, your lewd whorings, on the hills in the field.  Woe to you, O Jerusalem (Church)!  How long will it be before you are clean?” (Jeremiah 13.26-27 ESV).

Jesus is the cornerstone, the foundation and the reason for us to unite as the body of Christ.  The mission is the gospel, for the Kingdom of God to be planted and grown in our midst, and the means by which this happens is the Holy Spirit.  But I had many conversations and heard the strategizing of many church plants, and the common factor for their growth and stability is money.  Not only with church plants, but with existing churches and their meetings.  We meet.  We deliberate.  We conclude.  Then we pray and ask God to bless our decisions we have just made based on budgeting and this month’s tithe.

It may not happen exactly like this.  I am exaggerating to explain enlighten the pattern that is so rooted in our thinking that has emerged from  a culture of living beyond our needs.   The only thing that is different is our language when we use phrases like “We need to be good stewards for what God has given us.”  But our lifestyle and our corporate conduct is not very different.  We have no regrets about using God’s portion and our brothers’ and sisters’ hard earned income for regular lunch meetings, bloated salaries and high payroll for minimal work, the continual use of and reliance upon expensive equipment, radiant signs, and beautiful bulletins all to appease our customers.  We have become so dependent upon money for the functioning of our churches that we do not believe a church can exist without proper funding.  Somehow we translated the business model “it takes money to make money” into “it takes money to make converts.”

Then we hear stories about the Chinese underground church that is being oppressed and the miracles the Holy Spirit is doing, and we are baffled as to why we are not seeing it here. We read through Acts about the early church and dream about that kind of experience for our churches, but are not willing to take the risks and fully depend on the Holy Spirit.  Government, other religions, atheists, evolution, or public schools is not the oppressor of the American church, money is.  And our faith in money  is constraining the magnificence of God’s glory and his kingdom descending.

The sooner we can destroy the idol of money the sooner we can see the work of the Holy Spirit that we now only hear stories about.  The sooner we embrace the shame of our skirts being lifted over our face, and confess our slutty behavior to God, the sooner he who began a good work in us will continue to work in us.  The sooner we emerge together as the people of God for an exodus from our oppressor, the sooner he will deliver us to his kingdom where Jesus is all we need.

There is a remnant of churches that see this and are clinging to the ways of Jesus, and yet there are some that will fall prey to the very thing they rely on.  Because of money men and woman are going to make decisions that will hurt their friends and bring dissension.  Pastors are going to fire pastors and their friends, and those who are let go will feel as though they were cut off not based on them as a person, but as a number.  Pastors are going to condemn and judge attenders by preaching about budget deficits and the lack of giving to people who are struggling to put food on their table due to unemployment.  Rather than seeing a church that takes care of others’ needs, we will see the corporate personality of the church take care of its own needs before the needs of the people (who are the church).  If money were not our foundation and our means, then destruction would not be knocking at the door of many local churches during times of famine.

Yet, while destruction may show its ugly face, it is only for the sake of resurrection.  The confrontation of sin and the exposure of our scandalous  hearts is to humiliate us.  Allow this be a time where our relationship with Jesus is anything but personal and isolated.  May this recession be a season of reconciliation where we find the idols that are pulling us away from the Holy Spirit.  So that Jesus is the cornerstone  we build his kingdom and our oppressor crumbles.  Finally, so that we can celebrate Jesus’ resurrection in our life by embracing the death of our love and dependence for money.