Sunday, January 27, 2013

Blatant Immorality in the Church


I Tim.6: 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

The western evangelical church has conveniently outlined moral absolutes in sexual terms and avoided outlining them in terms of money. It has been a clever diversion to emphatically point to the cultural deviations from Biblical standards of morality in the sexual realm while engaging and enjoying the deviations from Biblical standards in the realm of money. It continues to be most self serving to allow yourself the widest breach of Biblical truths while exacting justice for those miscreants who breach the Biblical truths that you do not breach. In common parlance that is called hypocrisy.

But Jesus and the New Testament as a whole has much to say about wealth, money, and the allurement of material things. Sometimes we treat sexual commands as absolutes while we treat commands concerning money as suggestions or guidelines. Of course there is a convenient reason for such a double minded view of Scripture. When Scripture deals with sins that we ourselves are not committing then we stand firmly upon their literal meanings including energetically applying them to those who are observably committing those sins. But when Scripture ventures into our own lives and practices we often treat them gingerly and with kid gloves and rarely do we take them literally or with the same energy as we did the others.

And so it is with money. We in America live in a culture consumed and driven by money. The system is designed to accommodate the rich while the poor sometimes get some help that is just enough to soothe consciences. But even the poor are enslaved by the love of money. The love of money runs over America like lava from a volcano and the populace swim eagerly in it with hopes of increasing in their wealth. And the church by and large swim right along with them.

In fact, a large portion of the church believes and teaches that it is God’s will to prosper His people through their tithes and offerings. And that teaching is not just within the so called “prosperity” crowd, it is also taught among your run of the mill evangelicals. Subtly, cleverly, and with an ingenious cut and paste approach to Scripture, the western church has made room for whetting their beaks in the cesspool of greed and avarice while still claiming to “believe the Bible”. When evangelicals suggest that God has blessed America they mean primarily in the realm of wealth. Even preachers use the term “American exceptionalism” to indicate a level of superiority somehow given by God and always tethered to money.

The “love of money” is not an emotion, it is a practice that emanates from a lustful heart. And what kind of practices exhibit a love of money? There are many, but here are a few:

When we borrow money to fulfill our lusts.

When we save up sums of money for our own use.

When we are allured by advertisements.

When we seek financial gain.

When we believe all financial gains come from God.

When we believe all financial setbacks do not come from God.

When we worry about money.

When we do not live in moderation.

Money is a colossal stumbling block to believers in the west, but because we blend in so nicely we are blind to our compromise. And because we define morality almost exclusively in sexual terms we remain ambivalent and ignorant to the many ways in which we grieve the Spirit as it pertains to greed, avarice, and all things related to money. Sin is most profound and damaging when it is not only unrecognized as sin, but when it is embraced and practiced as a benign part of a believer’s life. And even more spiritually crippling is when sin is defined as the blessings of God. When that has gained entrance into the church then all spiritual power has been lost.

Money, when loved and used selfishly, represents humanism. It openly implies that we not only devalue the eternal, but even more grievous we do not actually believe in the eternal regardless of our doctrinal lip service. If you read the New Testament through in several sittings, and if you write down the verses that pertain to sins about money, you will find an amazing collection that compare in volume and in magnitude to the verses dealing with sexual immorality. The first great sin in the early church resulted in two deaths. It was lying to the Holy Spirit about money.

We have rewritten God’s Word in order to accommodate our western lifestyles. All of us. And because we view money through western and capitalist prisms we feel no conviction about borrowing great sums of money when we feel we need to move up materially. In fact, churches borrow millions of dollars from the fallen banking system because they can no longer bear packed auditoriums which Chinese believers could only dream about. So what are we to say about our brand of Christianity? We must admit it has bowed to the surrounding culture.

So the next time your hear a preacher speak out forcefully about homosexuality (he dare not say much about divorce) see if he addresses the sin of greed and avarice or the love of money. You will see that the church has used sexual sins to provide a diversion to her many sins concerning money. Of course if the preacher dares step into that realm he runs the risk of compromising his own “salary package”. But as long as the evangelical community lives well within the accepted parameters set by the culture we will continue to practice a redundant expression of the religion called Christianity without the power promised and displayed in the Book of Acts as well as in many revivals throughout church history.

But we can always continue to castigate the gay community or the pro-choice crowd. Or we can support and participate in a fallen political system which wastes obscene amounts of money just to change faces every four years. Either way, we can employ windows and not mirrors.


Kim said...

Well said, Pastor. I often tell my husband that God expects much from those who are given much, and who have been given more than people who live in the U.S.? This is something that God is truly dealing with within me. I thankfully see some progress being made.
One thing that saddens me is the realization deep within me that the whole world really has been deceived to lengths unimaginable by man by the great deceiver. We are living on top of so many layers of lies that it is impossible to get to the truth without the one who is Truth. How many will agree that a great part of the population has been deceived to think that divorce and remarriage is no problem (thanks to Hollywood)? How many of us have been deceived to think that spending money on ourselves (no matter what it is) is okay because we deserve it (thanks to TV - you're worth it). And how many have fallen for the lie that we can say or do whatever as long as at the end we give an appropriate apology..."I'm sorry"... without the words I was wrong and will you forgive me? The lies are deep and it takes a strong will and a heart devoted to God to muck through it all.

michael said...


One of the greatest ironies with this teaching today comes from this lesson taught by a King of Israel who was neck deep in both sexual sin and money:

My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. If they say, "Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood; let us ambush the innocent without reason; like Sheol let us swallow them alive, and whole, like those who go down to the pit; we shall find all precious goods, we shall fill our houses with plunder; throw in your lot among us; we will all have one purse"— my son, do not walk in the way with them; hold back your foot from their paths, for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood. but these men lie in wait for their own blood; they set an ambush for their own lives. Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain; it takes away the life of its possessors. (Proverbs 1:10-16, 18, 19 ESV)

mrs k said...

Circa the 1700's John Wesley is said to have not only preached but vigorously practiced that Christians should increase their standard of giving rather than their standard of living. It would seem that large doses of outrageous generosity are a good antidote for the poisonous love of money. A mindset of giving rather than getting.

I'm working on this by accepting some of Jesus' challenges in Luke 6:27-38. "Give to everyone who asks of you...." Oh, my. It's quite an adventure. I have yet to outgive God, though. (vs. 38) :D