As a young Christian teenager, one thing about God was crystal clear to me—He is poor and so are His kids. The church my family attended in the mid-1950s had no rich people. Everyone did things cheaply. Linoleum instead of carpeting, Painted walls instead of paneling. The congregation drove old used cars.
Missionaries were sent out with minimal support. And pastors? Well, in the early 1960s when I became a pastor myself, we received nominal housing, and a salary that was less than adequate. As the babies came, Jo skimped and scrimped while I sold books door-to-door, drove a school bus twice a day, and was on call to drive taxi and ambulance.
When we joined Wycliffe, we left for Brazil with only 40% of our recommended financial support promised. And that’s what we lived, or tried to, in our first term. The only new thing we owned was a tape recorder. Yes, it was obvious to us, God was poor.
Much later, I wondered where that poverty mentality came from: The economic depression in the 1930s? The scarcity during World War 2 in the 1940s? An overdeveloped sense of needing to be good money managers? Was money considered evil and Christians should have as little to do with it as possible? Nowhere in the doctrinal statement of my denomination was there a hint of God being poor. Our church prided itself in preaching and teaching the Bible, so why did it fail to teach the biblical view of God as our generous Provider?
It was not until I was thirty-four years old that God led me through an eye opening experience that changed my theology and my behaviour. Read the story here: The Almighty and the Dollar
The problem of unbiblical beliefs and behaviour persists today. We have all heard sermons on Proverbs 24:11-12: “Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, ‘But we knew nothing about this,’ does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? . . . Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?”
The point is usually that we should evangelize neighbours and friends who may not know God. There is however another most relevant application.
Did you know that Canada is one of only three countries, (the other two being China and North Korea), where it is legal for a woman to kill the baby in her womb at any time during the pregnancy, right up to the time it is being born? Tens of thousands of helpless babies are slaughtered in Canada every year, an average of 250 per day. Every year, ninety-thousand Canadian women are left spiritually damaged, and emotionally scarred for life. Yet churches seem to be quite willing to stay on the sidelines and let organizations like The Wilberforce Project fight the political battle.
We have heard, and I have preached, sermons on tithing: giving ten percent of our income to God’s work both at home and around the world. Abraham, our father in faith, tithed hundreds of years before God enshrined the concept in the Jewish law. But I’ve met many Christians who sincerely believe that if they give ten percent to God, they can spend the ninety percent totally on themselves. God has no further claim on their income. I’m sure no denomination’s doctrinal statement says that, yet many Christians live as if this was biblically sound theology.
The Bible clearly teaches that everything on earth belongs, not to us, but to God. “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” Psalm 24:1 (NIV).
God is the One who helps people create wealth. “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth” Deuteronomy 8:17-18 (NIV). Everything we own belongs to God, but how many of us actually live out this truth?
Churches tend to take a weak political stand against rampant baby killing.
Statistics on giving by Christians indicate that churches avoid strong teaching on our being managers, not owners of the money we earn.
These are two unbiblical beliefs and behaviors I have noticed. How about you? Have you seen or experienced any?
P.S. Don’t forget to read the story The Almighty and the Dollar.