Three Words That Christians Fear
What Harm Would Sacrificing Do?
I want to share with you, three words that strike fear into the hearts of Christians:
1. Giving 2. Sacrificing and 3. Suffering.
Am I correct? And please, God, help me to be honest with myself as I present this story as a way of personal testimony and personal cleansing to allow me to grow more into the invisible Kingdom of God. This is serious, friends. I am not joking.
What makes Giving, Sacrificing and Suffering so horrific to today's Christian? Lots of things. Mainly a trend that started back in the early 1980's with some rather strange television ministries (that will remain nameless) that went against conventional Christian teachings that taught us that we are to Give, not only tithes to the church assembly where we gather to worship, but to the needy people who are in need not by choice; Sacrifice at least 'some' of our time and materials to the Kingdom of God--things that we would normally cherish in a greedy fashion, and Suffering in some way--physically or even spiritually. "These" new-wave ministers were quick to add throngs of people to their ranks from their weekly television and radio programs as well as crusades, if you will, that drove home their new-found "revelations" that God spoke to them, (the ministers) and told 'just them' that we Christians should NEVER be sick, or suffer any affliction in life, but to GIVE directly to "them" and see how rich that God would make "us" for our giving of cash, credit card purchase or money order to their particular ministries.
I'm not going to stay here on this segment of my story for too much longer. I have to say that I attended one of these 'ministers'' programs at the (then) Boutwell Auditorium, Birmingham, Alabama in 1985 and you should have seen the crowd stand and cheer when the main minister came onto the stage--it was comparable to the greeting that the Beatles received when they landed at the airport in New York City in 1964. It was loud and very chaotic--people screaming this man's name, raising their hands to 'him' like a worship service, and almost causing the security guards to jump into action. I confess. I was very skeptical. And still skeptical in 2011.
Nowhere in King James (version) of The Bible does it state that by giving our money to a certain televangelist, our act of giving will make "us" wealthy. Go ahead and check for yourself. This certain televangelist, who is seen on a global scale, 365 days per year, uses the word 'prosperity' in his sermons that his followers soak up like sponges--never bothering to check out his doctrine for themselves. This man also uses the ploy that for years, Christians have been misled in their churches and that God WANTS His children to be wealthy, healthy and always happy. And no, you cannot find this teaching in either Old or New Testament.
The reason that Christians are terrified of the word: GIVE, to me, is that we simply do not want to part from our money or goods. That's plain and simple. We worked for our money, and it should stay in the bank, not our church to help further the Gospel, someone else who is much richer can do that, not our place to give all the time are some of the manufactured justifications that we use to avoid GIVING. It takes faith to give our money to our church. We should be able to see with our eyes the results or product of our weekly giving. Fact is, giving is part of the Christian experience, isn't it? Didn't our Lord, Jesus Christ, while on earth, teach his followers to not 'store up treasures on earth' for ourselves, but have treasures in Heaven? I think I am right. But modern-day televangelists who are into the prosperity-based telecasts, will teach you that we, the Christians, are to have our rewards here and in Heaven too. I hate to use this term, but 'have our cake and eat it too,' right? That's what it sounds like to me.
Another one of this particular televangelists brings in an estimated $200 million a year from his appearances that he attends in the leer jet that his followers bought him, and from his book sales, tape and CD sales, not to mention the weekly donations sent to him and some from elderly people who live on their much-needed pensions and Social Security checks. He has single-handedly convinced even the most staunch Christian who was grounded in the faith that he or she can be wealthy in THIS life and the next IF . ..they will only pledge a certain amount each month to "his" ministry.
These ultra-popular televangelists NEVER tell or show innocent and yes, naive people the hordes of people who HAVE given to their ministries and went bankrupt because they didn't receive the wealth that was said would come to them only if they gave. And if one of these super-popular television preachers were nailed down to tell the truth as to why lots of people didn't prosper, their answer would be that the people who didn't prosper didn't have the right amount of faith. You see? It is NEVER the fault of the televangelist. Just yours. Does this sound like the real Jesus that appears from Matthew through Acts in The Bible? You answer as honestly as you can and YES, you give to YOUR church where you are being taught the TRUTH about God's word on GIVING, not to a televangelist who WILL NOT visit you or call to check on you when you are sick. I'm sorry to have burst your bubble, but truth has a rough-edge sometimes.
Now for the word: SACRIFICING. What does the word, sacrifice mean? I am not here to teach a course in meanings of words because I believe that you are more intelligent than you think. Sacrifice means simply to do what Jesus, Our Lord taught in the New Testament, "deny thy self, take up the cross and follow me,' that, friends, is sacrifice. Do I sacrifice the way I should? No. I will be blunt and honest. I work on this chracter flaw each day. Why do I not sacrifice the way I should? You see, I, like you and all of mankind, have a sin nature that we inherited from Adam and Eve's disobedience and that sin nature has to be denied if I and you are to be true followers of God. Is sacrificing easy? No. It takes (anothre word Christians fear), WORK to accompish this. But when we do sacrifice in the Biblical sense, a special peace comes into our souls telling us that we simply obeyed our Master, Jesus, The Lord God. And you know another thing? Jesus is NOT hard to understand or get along with! I'm totally serious. Friends, just read the TRUTH in The Bible about SACRIFICE on personal basis and you will see a clear difference in God's definition of sacrifice than those of the popular televangelists.
The last word on my list is ENDURING, which means to last or hold out in a task or service to God or our neighbor. Enduring also relates to afflictions of our flesh and mind. Even the Apostle Paul was afflicted with some thorn in his flesh, but he always was striving to endure his afflictions to please God and carry out his missionary goals. Today, thanks again, to our friends, the incredibly-popular televangelists, some I am saying, teach that today's Christian DOES NOT have to endure physical pain. At all. All we have to do is claim our healing and wham bam! We are fine. These men and women of super-health use the scripiture in 1 Peter that states, 'by His stripes, ye were healed,' but that only applies to our spiritual lives. Jesus' main goal on earth was NOT to get everyone healthy, but to enter God's Kingdom and receive spiritual healing. Try telling this to one of these televangelists' blind followers--they will all but scold you for persecuting their leaders in this particular ministry that has taken most of America by storm.
Fact: One night, out of sheer curosity, I sent an email to one of these televangelists ministries and asked a simple question after hearing the guy on my television make the bold claim that he and his wife had owned SEVEN homes and not one of them cost him or his wife ONE PENNY. That sparked my interest immediately. I asked on my email how did this guy live--did he buy groceries? Pay bills, and so on. The response I received took my breath it was so unbelievable..a girl who worked for this "minister," wrote and stated that this guy,her boss, DID NOT receive ANY money from his crusades, book or CD sales..that EVERY penny went back into his ministry and she had the gall to use THIS PHRASEOLOGY: "our brother believes that this is (name of minister) his ministry and that this guy WAS the ministry." Well, I wrote back and asked did this guy EVER buy groceries? Have water and power bills in his homes? Was the gas in his fleet of Rolls Royce cars mysteriously paid for like the jet fuel in his expensive leer jet? Guess what? No more emails came back to my computer. Why? Did I ask an outrageous question? I don't think so.
The reason for the artwork of a dinner table in my story is simple. Can you imagine what our country would be like IF we, as Christians, who believe the TRUTH in God's Word, would GIVE UP only ONE meal a week? One meal. That is all. That is true giving, sacrifice and enduring.
And as for physical healing. I personally believe that GOD CAN heal all diseases. In some cases, HE doesn't. This too can be proven scripturally. I have a disease called Accelerated Fibromyalgia and Neuropathy as well as three bad disks in my lower back and God has yet to heal me. Do I hate God? NO! I am learning what the meaning of the words I am telling you about..on a daily basis...the words: GIVE, SACRIFICE AND ENDURING.
And none of these three words have caused my life to be lessened, but on the contrary, my life is much richer because I am glad to take the time to really LIVE out what these three words mean to me personally as a struggling Christian in 2011.