Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Tale of Two Books


This weekend my wife and I went to some local garage sales.  One that we went to was held inside an old church and featured a few really good deals (we had to argue with some sweet old lady to even pay at all for some of the items we purchased) and some delicious baked goods.  On one of their tables, they were selling some books and on that table there were two books stacked upon each other.  One book was a biography of Guy Howard, otherwise known as The Walking Preacher who was an itinerant preacher who traveled by foot in the Ozark mountains holding revival meetings wherever he was able to get a crowd.  The other book was by Joel Osteen, know widely for his book and message entitled "Your Best Life Now."  In that short stack of two books we see a contrast played out between many of our churches today.  That contrast are those who focus on the life to come and those who focus on their life in the here and now.  The Bible is clear on which one is right.
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  Matthew 6:19-21 NKJV
If it were not so tragic, I would find it almost amusing on how many people forget this verse.  Instead they either twist the meaning of other scriptures or take others way out of context.  They forget that the pleasures of this world are distractions away from God.  They forget the many warnings given in Scripture on seeking wealth.  I have not had the time to research Guy Howard to know enough of his theology to endorse or renounce what he taught, but his story is played out again and again throughout the world today.  There are many missionaries who travel through impoverished places with nothing other than sandals to get them around (though many do not even have that luxury).  Some lucky ones have bicycles, but carrying around gospel tracks and Bibles on a bicycle over unpaved and unmaintained roads is no easy task. As for their churches, we are talking the simplest of buildings many with dirt floors and many having to meet in secret.  They have no sound system, rock concert worship, or any other creature comfort for that matter.  We will never see these churches or know the names of their pastors.  The missionary who started that church will be unknown to the rest of the world.  These are the ones I look forward most to meeting in Heaven. 

Let's contrast this with the many big-named preachers we all know very well.  They fly around in private jets and luxury cars, wearing the latest in designer clothes.  Being that they are on television, they also have professional hair and makeup people to make sure they always look their best.  They teach in giant stadiums, gaudy cultural centers, and giant churches.  They teach and talk about how our best lives are now or showing us the keys to worldly prosperity.  They are spoiled beyond spoiled and teach others that they should be just as spoiled.  The people read their books, have their communion three times a day to get better health, study the key verses in the Bible to be rich, praying in the right way for God to rain prosperity upon them, and fall backwards to somehow prove that the Holy Spirit approves of their antics.  Should any of these make it to Heaven, I wonder if they will finally realize just how utterly selfish and worldly they were on earth.  They do not understand that their own excess is meant to provide for the ones who lack.  They keep the excess for themselves (minus 10% to pad the wealth of their pastor) while so much of the rest of the church starves. 

They think they are rich, but they are not.  What they hold onto is destined to burn in the fires of judgement and should they make it to eternity, I wonder just how much treasure will be stored for them.  Perhaps they will learn just what that loss is for those who are saved, but as through fire, where all their works are burned and nothing is left. 
Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'--and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked-- I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, [that] the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.  Revelation 3:17-18 NKJV

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