James 2: 5 – 7
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of God. This statement was made by Jesus and it stretches on the fact that the more we come to the end of ourselves (knowledge, strength and might), the poorer we become knowing that we can only depend on God at such times. The Kingdom of God is said to be ours when our dependency is on God rather than depending on our efforts, connections, might, strength and whatever we think we have to our advantage.
James, on the other hand said that God had chosen the people who are poor in the eyes of the world to be the ones who would inherit the Kingdom of God. If we go back to the Old Testament, we would find out that James was right because many rich people did not seek their creator because of their trust in riches. He was writing to his fellow Jewish people and the presentation by the Apostle Paul was still in the pipeline, so he had no choice but to make this presentation having the Old Testament in retrospect.
As highlighted in our previous posts, there are many things we can, as New Testament believers glean from this Book and presentation. James made it crystal clear that to favor the rich over the poor is evil, particularly as we judge them the moment we set our eyes on them. A vivid example of favoring the rich over the poor in the Church today, is when the Pastor, feels the need to know the celebrities attending a particular wedding before he decides whether to officiate the wedding or not. If there are no celebrities or icons of society attending the wedding, he then decides to send his assistant to officiate the ceremony. This action is judgment being made and as far as James is concerned, it is EVIL.
Many today especially in our Churches are bothered about how they are perceived; what people say about them; what they want the world to think about them and more so, they want to present to the world that they are making or have made it. Various competitions even among Churches through the many projects we embark upon, through the many Ministers we invite from abroad (you need to have the resources to bring such to your Church) whether they are going to have an impact or not on our congregation. You will agree with me that so much capital goes into this and at the end we have nothing to show for such other than wanting people to see us in a different light and perspective.
The question is, are we saying that we don’t have good Pastors, Teachers in Africa (say, Nigeria) that we have to spend so much importing from abroad (America, most especially)? Is there a balance in the exports of the Gospel compared to the imports? American Pastors don’t come easy, they make demands on how they have to fly first class, accommodated in five star hotels, plus they don’t travel alone (there is always an entourage). Some of them will ask about the number of people in your congregation because they don’t go to preach or teach in small Churches. Lets assume they have a Word from God for the Church, if you cannot afford them, it means you’re not going to hear that Word from God. I am not sure God works like that.
Many of us have embarked upon many projects that require enormous capital and means, so the idea is to design ways of making sure these projects are delivered. For example, so many are building because of the need to remain in competition with their contemporaries otherwise they would be seen as not being in that particular strata or group of the “Mega Pastors or Churches”. We have to remain relevant is the mantra in the mind of the set-man, although tight lipped. In such places, nothing is more important than the vision of the projects, buildings and the so many programs they have.
There is pressure all around because of these demands, we have to meet with our budgets, we have to pay for this and pay for that. To meet with these titanic demands, we have to devise ways of attracting the rich in the society, the celebrities, and in our case, the politicians because they are the ones who have and can give the sort of money that can meet these demands. The moment they appear at our doors, we do everything possible to keep them happy so they don’t go to other Churches. Not only do we keep them happy, we want to make sure that the prominent places are filled up with such people with such positions. We go further by bringing them to the pulpit to make announcements, lead prayers even if they don’t know or understand what they are doing but as long as they speak eloquently, they are good to go. The rich also want power, don’t forget. The more of such you attract, the better, whether or not they seek after God; plus you don’t want to say things that might get them angry – you don’t want them to leave your Church. In other words, favoritism becomes the order of the day.
As long as we fulfill and meet our financial demands then we are doing well and nothing else matters. You don’t want to have a need for financial support from the Church as you might be disappointed because meeting your needs implies that one of the church projects may suffer, so you may be kept on the queue for months.
Jesus said it would be easy for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into the Kingdom of God. This he said to the Jews because the rich were too proud to seek after God; the woman with the issue of blood was also a rich woman who thought she didn’t need Jesus but good doctors until the doctors took all her money leaving her in a worse state. She became poor and decided to seek Jesus for the blood problem that she had and later became better and whole.
In His discourse about the parable of the seed, He described the seed that grew among thorns as the Word of God growing but the distractions of life, DECEITFULNESS of RICHES coupled with worry, choked the Word and stopped it from bringing forth the right harvest. James told his audience, “Isn’t it the high and mighty who exploit you, who use the courts to rob you blind? Aren’t they the ones who scorn the name — used in your baptisms?
Does this mean that it is evil to be rich? No…the Grace of God, the shed blood of our Lord Jesus and the work on the Cross was wrought to save those and all who would believe in Him, making Him the Lord of their lives – becoming poor in the Spirit.
Through hard work, you can be rich but Apostle Paul wraps this all up by saying that, “Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.”
“One of the dangers of having a lot of money is that you may be quite satisfied with the kinds of happiness money can give, and so fail to realize your need for God. If everything seems to come simply by signing checks, you may forget that you are at every moment totally dependent on God.” – Clive Staples Lewis.
Keep it right here and be refreshed!