RUNNING A MULTI-MILLION RAND CHURCH BUSINESS IN SOUTH AFRICA, contd.
Then you will prosper if you are careful to observe the statutes and the ordinances which the Lord commanded Moses concerning Israel. Be strong and courageous, do not fear nor be dismayed...[ 1st Chronicles 22: 13]
Every work which he began in the service of the House of God in law and commandment, seeking his God, he did with all his heart and prospered…[ 2nd Chronicles 31: 21]
Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, But the hand of the diligent is made rich…
[ Proverbs 10: 4]
O’ daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you luxuriously in scarlet, Who put ornaments of gold on your apparel…[ 2nd Samuel 1: 24]
Let them shout for joy and rejoice, who favor my vindication; And let them say continually, “The Lord be magnified, Who delights in the prosperity of His servant” [ Psalm 35: 27]
Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers…[ 3rd John 1: 2]
“O’ Lord, I beseech You, may Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant and the prayer of Your servants who delight to revere Your name, and make your servant successful today and grant him compassion before this man” Now I was the cupbearer to the king…[ Nehemiah 1: 11] From the aforesaid verses, a reasonable inference can be easily drawn that Lord God desires His children to prosper. As stated in the list of Bible verses of this nature is almost countless.
Notwithstanding the position of Lord God as stated above, but without derogating therefrom, it is necessary to clarify a grave misconception that has affected, infected and infested the world over regarding the position of Lord God and wealth or wealthy persons… This misconception is, to a greater extent responsible for poverty in various parts of the world as it has been ingrained in the minds of humanity for several centuries. The misconception arises from the misinterpretation of the statement that was once issued by Lord Jesus Christ thus… Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God…” [ Matthew 19: 23- 24]
The first problem is that this statement is generally taken out of context. The second problem is that a literal interpretation( misinterpretation) is usually adopted.
The context of the statement was simply as follows:
A rich man had approached Lord Jesus and asked Lord Jesus…”Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
Lord Jesus told the rich man to keep the commandments… “You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal…” “All these I have kept…what do I still lack?” Lord Jesus replied… “If you want to be perfect, go sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then follow me.”.
Lord Jesus by issuing that statement wanted to test the rich man’s faith in Lord God as the rich man had claimed to have obeyed Lord God from childhood. This testing of faith had occurred to many people in the Holy Bible. Abraham, among the rest, was once tested when Lord God instructed Abraham to offer Isaac, Abraham’s only son as a sacrifice to Lord God thus… “Take your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the mountains of which I tell you [Genesis 22:1-2.]. It is public knowledge that Abraham passed the test and took Isaac to the mountains as Lord God had instructed. It is also public knowledge that Lord God provided Abraham with a lamb for the sacrifice and not Isaac. The rich man failed the test. If indeed the rich man had strong faith in Lord God the rich man would not have had difficulty in selling his possessions because Lord God owns all the riches in the universe as such Lord God had the ability to replenish all the riches that the rich man would have sold, and given to the poor without any difficulty.
A proper meaning of the statement is to be found if one adopts a purposeful system of interpretation, that is, what was the purpose behind that statement. The purpose behind that statement was cautionary to the rich people to warn the rich that the rich must not be blinded by their riches to the extent that the rich assume that the rich are Lord God themselves. The rich must also continue to obey Lord God even in view of their riches. It is public knowledge that there are rich people who tend to assume that due to their riches, they themselves had become Lord God themselves. The history from the stone age is littered with such colourful characters. It is common knowledge that Lord God would not be giving blessings ( or creating billionaires to put it straight) if Lord God then planned that once someone had become a billionaire, one will be sent flying to hell purely because one had become rich. Such a misinterpretation is furthermore contrary to various biblical verses where Lord God clearly shows that Lord God embraces wealth, prosperity, and progress. In passing it is necessary to give a warning that literal interpretation to biblical verses is dangerous mainly because the current bible (for example English Bible or other) had been translated from different languages over centuries as such a possibility that the precise words, meaning, and context of the original bible may have been altered in the course of history and evolution is not far-fetched.
A church is an agency of heavens that performs the work of Lord God on earth. To this extent for a church to carry out its mandate, a church must have the necessary financial resources to do so failing which the church will fail in its duties. If then the church fails to do Lord God’s work due to lack of resources, then the Lord God is prejudiced, the public is also prejudiced, and the Devil wins. To this extent, a church must be selfsustainable, be able to generate its own revenues instead of relying on donations from the third parties. It must, however, be emphasized from the onset that all such (revenue) operations must be done in strict compliance with the prescriptions as set out in the Holy Bible. It is therefore not a sin for a church to be able to generate its own finances by lawful means.
In our next feature, further issues that relate to the topic at hand will be discussed.