For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. – Matthew 13:15-17
The greatest downfall of Christianity has been the idea that man can sell God.
Now when I say Christianity, I do not mean Christ, or God, I mean the organization that man has created. I am a firm believer that man is evil and is motivated by self interest, greed, and all around sin. Thus, whatever man creates is more often than not evil – or at best, motivated by that which is contrary to God’s purpose for us. It is not difficult to see evil in the world. We see evil done everyday, many times disguised as “good intentions,” or justified as “the way things are.”
When it comes to Christianity, there is no exception to this evil – in fact, one need only turn on the TV. How many Christian ministries exist in the world that truly and honestly are motivated by Christ and His will? Of course, all will say they are motivated by Christ, even going as far as to declare they have been called by God Himself! But do not be deceived, for “you will know them by their fruits . . .” (Matthew 7:16).
When Christ was on the Earth, he was a member of the Jewish faith. He was raised a Jew, practiced Jewish customs, and eventually became a Jewish scholar, or Rabbi. Jesus focused his time and energy on His own people – the Jews. These were God’s chosen people, but they had fallen away from God’s will. They had put themselves as the center of holiness, and they used their wealth, and power, and influence to maintain their control. The Jews of Jesus’ day dictated the law of God, twisting it and shaping the law to fit their own desires.
The Judaism of Jesus’ day is no different than the Christianity of today.
Now, to be fair, I don’t mean that every Christian is a hypocrite and a liar, what I am referring to is the institution of Christianity itself. Every church that I have been to, regardless of the denomination, regardless of the country, has pretty much been set-up the same.
There is a leader, or leadership of some sort (usually a pastor or priest). The audience faces the front of a room and a show begins. There’s oftentimes music involved, sometimes there are public prayers; but, in the end, the church functions for your entertainment. While a lot of Christians will disagree with me by saying they go to church to be inspired or to fellowship, their church sadly misguides them from participating in Jesus’s real ministry.
The modern Christian church has been taken over by people who preach about the word of God, they sing songs about Him, and they even publicly pray to Him. But they are merely putting on a show, hoping that you will continue to attend their services, donate your money to them, and tell others to do the same.
In fact, some churches don’t even hide the fact that they are essentially an entertainment business. Don’t believe me? Here’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about:
Lakewood Church is the largest Protestant church in the United States, with an average attendance of 43,000+ people. The head pastor is Joel Osteen (ever heard of him?). If you go to his church’s main website and click on the “About” section, you will see exactly what his church stands for: https://www.lakewoodchurch.com/about.
If you actually clicked on the link you will see that in no place does it mention service . . . at all. Even if you click on another link entitled “Care,” you will see resources such as funerals, weddings, counseling, and hospital visits. While these are relatively worthwhile, they are far from what Jesus demonstrated to us when he was on the Earth.
Now, what is especially disheartening is Lakewood Church’s annual budget is about $90 million. How much of that $90 million do you think goes to feeding the hungry, healing the sick, and helping the poor? I’ll tell you, it’s only 1.4% (according to an investigation done by the Houston Chronicle). This means 98.6% of the resources from the single largest “Christian” congregation in the U.S. goes to . . . itself!
Jesus cared for the shunned of society (e.g. lepers, prostitutes, etc). He visited those with whom no one else wanted to be associated. He fed the poor and healed the sick; to this end did Jesus dedicated his life. While He did teach the people how to live, He was known for his acts of compassion and service to others. In short, Jesus dedicated his life to serving those in need; then, he instructed those who followed Him to do the same.
Joel Osteen, and popular Christians like him, write books, put on concerts, and create an atmosphere of excitement and enthusiasm. While these are all positive things, are they inspired by God?
Jesus preached humility and meekness . . .
But Mr. Osteen is not the exception! In fact, I would venture to say almost all Christian churches would love to be as big as Lakewood Church! I would venture to say that almost all Christian pastors would love to be as popular as Joel Osteen!
If you currently attend a church, ask your leadership if Joel Osteen is doing God’s work. Ask him or her if the goal of their church is to grow, and if so, how big? Then, after you’ve asked these questions, take a look around. What is the focus of your church or ministry currently? How much of your church’s budget is used for helping the poor? How much of your church’s time and effort is spent on the service of the needy?
Jesus gave us the tools to discern who is of God, and who is merely a man preaching about God:
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matthew 7:21-23)!