Life with Jesus is a process, not simply an event. Of course, it is wonderful to be 'born again' but this is just the first step in building a relationship with Jesus, not the only one. As in marriage, where we get to know our spouse more intimately as we live together, so with Jesus our relationship develops, grows and deepens as we walk with together with Him. He is not simply to be 'Saviour' but also the 'Lord' of our life.
The problem that most of us have is in understanding how this process works. The major role of RCCG is, as our mission statement says, "GROWING BELIEVERS INTO DISCIPLES, UNITED IN CHRIST, REFLECTING JESUS TO THE WORLD."
There are many ways in which we need to grow into relationship with Jesus. As we live in a highly materialistic world, we will concentrate, in this series, on what we very often (wrongly actually!) consider to be the prime blessing of God, that is, money.
As we grow in Jesus our attitude towards money should change. For what we do with our wallet is a highly accurate indicator of where we are spiritually in Jesus!
This is the 'Father Christmas' mentality. When we come to Jesus as a reborn child, we naturally expect childish things. And God generally provides them! There are numerous testimonies - you will likely have some - about how God blessed you in your work, your home, your bank account, and many other ways. "God is good" - as long as he continues to give me presents, to make me rich, or at least, better off, than I was before!
Sadly, many Christians like this time so much that they wish to remain spiritual children, receiving gifts from 'Daddy God' forever, until they are whisked off the earth in the pre-tribulation rapture to an eternal free gift heaven without suffering any pain in the pocket, forever! Wow! The whole world will inevitably become Christians then, if believing in Jesus makes one rich both now and for eternity! For we all are children at heart and love receiving gifts.
While this may sound extreme, reality is, it is the doctrine that much of the church preaches today. Easy Christianity! A walk without personal cost or sacrifice! Then we wonder why so many people leave the church disillusioned, having given it a go for some time before finding out it simply isn't true.
This is also the foundation for the teaching of the extreme prosperity preachers. Of course, qualified with, 'Give your tithe to God (through me!) and you will get rich. The more you give the more you will get.' The extreme prosperity preacher gets rich, but do you? I have experienced these 'hard on' prosperity based congregations round the world, in countries both rich and poor. The common thread in them all is that the preachers have the airplanes, flash homes, Mercedes and gold jewelery, while the people drive 'bombs', ride bikes, travel on the (often preacher provided) bus, or walk. The only difference between America and Africa is one of degree.
God wants us to grow up! To grow beyond believing in 'Daddy Christmas'! To move beyond the delights of the honeymoon to the reality of developing a deep relationship with Jesus. So as we grow, He withdraws the gifts, He tests us with trials and tribulations, He encourages us to move deeper into Him.
Does our understanding prepare us for what is to come?
Bless Him through me
At this stage, promoted by more responsible prosperity preachers, we ask God to bless us financially, so that we might be able to give more to Him.
This sounds good, and in fact, is good, if and when it happens! But the problem is, when God blesses us more financially, while we give God more, we also keep some - or much - of the increase for ourselves.
'What is wrong with this?' you might ask. Well, nothing! God has pleasure in blessing us and we, in turn, can help others who are helping Him. For the needs out there are so great! A win-win situation both for God and us!
The overriding understanding here is that all we have belongs to God. We are but stewards of what we have and our primary role is to use our resources to build His kingdom. There are two different approaches to this.
Firstly, God give me more. I undertake to spend no more than I do now on myself and will give ALL my increase to You. A number of famous businessmen around the world have followed this principle of living on little while giving all their increase to God.
The second group is those who reject the acquisition of money altogether and simply give away all they received above minimal personal needs. Many famous preachers and missionaries throughout history, the Wesley's for example, have taken this attitude towards what they have been given. Today we have the examples such as Mother Teresa and Brother Andrew who have forsworn earthly possessions in order to help the poor and needy.
I do understand that this call is not for everyone. Indeed, history shows only a very few have been prepared to, literally, pay the price.
The example in the New Testament, applying to the times in which they lived, is an example of this understanding. It was not compulsory, but it was what God desired.
THE BELIEVERS SHARE THEIR POSSESSIONS
32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. 34 There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need. 36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet. (Acts 4:32-36)
Many believe the world will provide the funds necessary to evangelise it, as the Egyptians gave to the Jews when the Israelites left Egypt. While there is an element of truth to that, the truth is that it is a great excuse not to use our own resources for the task!
The reality is, the church already has both within the organisation, and amongst its members, more than sufficient money to fulfil the Great Commission. It is simply a matter of priorities. For the Lord has blessed His people as a whole worldwide. The problem is, we retain His blessing for our own use, instead of using it to help others less fortunate than ourselves, particularly other believers, and for the extension of His kingdom.
My friend, I know that this message is a difficult one. This is a challenging lifestyle, for us. My wife and I have experienced it. Being human, there are always times when we would like more. But when it comes down 'tin tacks', to the bottom line, who and what we are in God is well illustrated in what we do with our wallets.
Why then, do you want God's financial blessing? Is it to bless you or to bless Him?
God bless you.
Pastor Fabian Orji