I have recently become very interested in the sermons that churches deliver on a Sunday morning that affect business people and the congregations in general. One particular area is that of our financial Christian lives and how we exist day-to-day.
We are so often being told that Jesus was poor, born in to poverty, lived a life of obscurity and "sofa-surfed" for the last three years of his life. But before anyone feels compelled to respond to this either agreeing or disagreeing, I will categorically state that I think this illustration is shocking and should be banned from being preached in Church. (Link to "Was Jesus Poor - are you serious" Article)
My point is that we are cajoled into thinking there is something honorable in being poor and that the poor clergy is on our side! Justin Welby - Ex director of British Petroleum (BP) and now Archbishop of Canterbury commenting on the energy price rises in October 2013:
"I do understand when people feel that this is inexplicable, and I can understand people being angry about it, because having spent years on a low income as a clergyman I know what it is like when your household budget is blown apart by a significant extra fuel bill and your anxiety levels become very high. That is the reality of it."
What perpetuates the attitude of so many churches and people? I know, but does the Church? And if it does, why won't it do something about it? BTW, its called the work of the enemy, i.e. Satan!
We're told in the Bible that we are to give out of our abundance, not out of our poverty (and yes I know my scripture about the old lady and throwing her two mites in to the offering box Luke 21:1-4 - I also believe she expected a return, but thats for a different article!).
Lets make one thing clear, God is not short of cash! He knows that we have to use money on this earth. Therefore, when we give we are giving to him because we love him, not for any other reason. We can't buy our way in to his good books ("grace abounds" for those in the know!).
We give in a similar way as we would give to our own children and spouses - because we love them so much. There happens to be a mechanism in place on earth that means that when we give to God (our tithes) it is done so through the Church, the church then takes care of local community issues, i.e. church upkeep, salaries, widows, orphans, homeless, those with financial problems and so on.
But the trouble is, there is never enough. The "takings" are always down, but they would be, based upon what I've mentioned above. No one is giving out of their abundance!
Another point is that there is a difference between tithes, offerings, gifts and alms. Yet the Church lumps them altogether and attracts the lowest common denominator, alms, i.e. giving to charities or the poor.
If we are to look at something that is commonplace in "the world" such as Maslow's law we can see that the way of the world has established a hierarchy of needs that is generally accepted by everyone.
Maslow's law is illustrated as a pyramid with our physiological needs forming the foundation of the pyramid. As you can see on the example diagram above from the physiological needs then moves to safety needs then love and belonging, esteem and finally self actualisation - as you can see from the illustration, there is no place for faith, spirituality or God!.
Abraham Maslows book Religions, Values, and Peak Experiences. To some extent the term represents Maslow's attempt to "naturalize" those experiences which have generally been identified as religious experiences and whose origin has, by implication, been thought of as supernatural. Maslow (1970) believed that the origin, core and essence of every known "high religion" was "the private, lonely, personal illumination, revelation, or ecstasy of some acutely sensitive prophet or seer (p. 19).
Like I said, no place for God!!!
Whilst there are many descriptions within this pyramid, thinking about the Bible in comparison to Maslow's law, the Bible is far simpler.
There are three main elements that God wants us to grasp (not in any order) and these are:
Maslows Law illustrates a number elements that we're familiar with, however, the Bible attempts to explain that we have three fundamental life elements and that by following the Bible will enable us to live a victorious life in the knowledge of those things that have gone before us and what is to come.
Victory, by definition, comes from defeating something or someone and in the case of Christianity this means the Devil.
There's one problem though. If the Church won't teach on all three, there is no way that your typical congregation will progress to any level of understanding let alone any form of enligtenment or victory. Especially as most sermons are based upon relationship issues, i.e. with each other and with God (ostensibly through prayer). I say this because believing for health means believing for supernatural healing and believing for finances means believing for supernatural increase which translates to the Prosperity Gospel.
Both of these demand by default, a physical manifestation of change:-
The nub of this problem is that we accept Maslows Law but have completely missed the simplicity of the Bible in favor of "Man's" description for life and by default, erased God's desire for us to live amazing lives by taking advantage of the provision he has already made for us.
God wants us to be healthy, wealthy and have great relationships, not only with Him but with everyone around us. But if you remove one of these three elements you have got an incomplete illustration of life! However, if we blend this "incompleteness" with Maslows Law, it is possible to feel almost adequate because the world is telling you you're O.K. If we focus on Man's view we think could get by.
Sadly, the world continues to do everything it can to dismiss God. And the Church is doing a good job of confusing everyone because of the poor message and whips its congregations up in to a dank frenzy of pseudo spirituality that only ensures the continuity of the past 200 years - compounding the saying "if you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always got".
Can the Church compete with union Unite offering incentives for Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants to pay 50p per month to become members and be taught how to claim benefits? Click here to read the full article.
As a Christian I believe anyone can live anywhere on Gods earth. When it comes to money, the Church should be teaching everyone how to live lives that honour God and how to acquire whatever resources are needed to live how God expects us to live. Unite are offering a service for 50p per month to have the needs met, through our benefits system, for new immigrants to the UK (again based upon Maslow's Law not God's).
So what are we believing God for - Something or nothing?
What are we expecting from the Church - something or nothing?
We have grown accustom to accept that the preacher will present us with a story that attempts to prompt us in to giving, yet the Church refuses to teach about money. Furthermore, we are told we should be giving God 10% as our tithe (which I agree with) and be content to live on the 90% left over. If the teaching is not there, how can you give cheerfully out of your abundance when we're being told to make do!
The Church feels at liberty to persuade us to part with our charitable reddies, but it translates in to the Church competing with some other charity that's making the most amount of noise at any given time throughout the year.
But when it comes to teaching on the three basic elements of the Bible, if two out of three get left out, the congregations are no better off than they were when they first walked in to the Church and then the competition for the charitable donation becomes valid instead of a genuine tithe or offering in gratitude to God for bestowing his blessing on us and our families.
I know it starts with a verbal commitment and a prayer of salvation. I also know that a Pastor has a one-off chance with a persons single visit to a church. But no church will develop if the same line is trolled out because of tradition.
In business we have forecasts, targets and ROI. In Church these do not exist, however, if they did, they would be based upon written commitments to join the church and actual water baptisms. This is the only way a church can grow. Finances would never be a problem because the Church would teach on finances (as well as health in all its forms) and help everyone get grounded in the Word so that they could live their lives as God intended.
Christianity is a supernatural existence. It requires supernatural faith in baptism in water, a supernatural faith in what Jesus did on the cross and what the ramifications of his death means to us here and now.
I pray that our church leaders in the UK stand up to the Devil and speak for the congregations and help them become genuinely victorious about defeating the enemy and start building the Church in to what it is supposed to be - THE BODY OF CHRIST - and not an administrative body that collects donations on Sundays - and everybody said - AMEN