I had a discussion with a wise friend of mine last night. We had a fantastic idea for a tool that we think would dramatically advance the Kingdom of God. All it would take is ten to twenty million dollars, and we were just a tad bit short yesterday.
On the one hand, I think the American church is vastly too dependent on money. Christ sent out the Twelve without their American Express card because He wanted them to walk in the power of God, not the power of mammon. The early church and the church behind the Iron Curtain and the church behind the Bamboo Curtain have all accomplished much without liquid assets.
And I am sure my friend and I can both do a lot of damage to the Kingdom of Darkness without $20 million in spare change.
That said, there is also room for abundance of assets for ministry. When Moses took up an offering for the Tabernacle, there was too much stuff donated. Warehousing the treasure became an instant headache because the people who were slaves yesterday were wealthy today and had such a large surplus that they were delighted to invest in their God’s worship place with extravagant abandon.
I have been in a lot of church services where the offering taker worked the crowd with a hard sell and raised a large offering. Not often do we have a religious context where the offering taker tells the people to just stop already because they just don’t have the ability to handle the influx.
What is tragic and what mocks the King is that this happens a lot on Kickstarter. There is such affluence in the world today and such an excitement about esoteric socially innovative projects that many projects are extravagantly funded with extraordinary speed.
Why not the Kingdom?
Today’s prayer is for a release of the funds from Egypt for the people of God to do the work of God in an extravagant manner. That said, I need to clearly differentiate among three terms.
The two extremes are very clear. On the one hand are the consumers. They are about themselves and their desire for more money from God, or the culture is for their safety and comfort. It is not wrong to be safe and comfortable. It is not wrong to be wealthy. It simply is not something that causes the fires of my intercessory passion to flow. Work, make money, spend it on yourselves. Just don’t ask me to pray about money for your lifestyle wishes. Not happening.
On the other extreme are the builders. They sacrifice lifestyle consistently to see their dream come true. From the pioneers on the frontiers to the scientists in their labs, the builder’s so often gamble away their own lives for the sake of the dream.
Within that group is my beloved subset of the social entrepreneurs – those who not only want to bring about change, but want to change the way change is brought about.
My favorite book on the topic is “The Power of Unreasonable People” and he lists the ways social entrepreneurs are among the most unreasonable (and self-sacrificing) of all builders.
In between those two extremes is the problem group. These are the consumers who think they are builders and they plan to become builders as soon as their lifestyle needs are satiated. The problem is that their lifestyle WANTS gently creep up one or two percent faster than their income, and they never get to the place where they have the “surplus” to give or invest in the Kingdom. They were broke at $50K a year, broke at $100K a year and will be broke at $150K a year because their income is like the tide – it comes in and goes out the same day.
They are not dangerous, just an aggravation because they talk smack and expect to be honored for their intentions when the reality says they are consumers who dream of being builders.
I appreciate the way Dr. Bill Bright intentionally capped his lifestyle at $70K per year so that lifestyle creep did not silently push his consumption to high levels when he got out of the tight spot and into a place of high income. Anything over $70,000 a year he donated to the Kingdom, even the $1.1 million Templeton Prize he won.
So this prayer today is for those who are financially devoured today, but who God knows WILL invest in the Kingdom when they eventually have the resources and for the builders who are already investing in the Kingdom on a larger scale than their budget really allows.
Copyright July 2015 by Arthur Burk
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