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In the Old Testament there are lots of stories about the followers of Baal or Marduk or one god or another offering human sacrifices (and how unhappy about it Jehovah gets). Sometimes to please their gods so that they would have a good harvest or some other reason related to a hope for prosperity or blessing. They would get a virgin (or a baby) and sacrifice them on a stone altar in the hopes of some future comfort. They didn't lie about it. Everybody knew that was the plan. Even the virgin. At least the prophets of Baal had the decency to tell the virgin what they were doing and why. Maybe they even thanked her and threw a party before spilling her blood. That would be nice.
In America, the Christian church (as a whole) is much less honest. You see, we are saying that we care for the sick and poor and unreached, but what we're actually doing with our time and resources shows that we mean the exact opposite of that. We're knowingly letting them die so that we can have bounty and be comfy. And since we say we love them and we care about their eternal souls, not just their body, our insulting double-talk is amazingly more offensive! We average just 2% in giving and of that money ($250 Billion), we spend over 95% of it on ourselves. Less than 0.01% reaches the most unreached.
That's why the World is really irritated with us, because we're telling them we care and then we're spending our money on ourselves. Go read the Scary Stats page. Everything is exactly upside down of what we would be doing if we REALLY cared for those whom Jesus most cared for.
Put another way, in order for us to maintain our lush lifestyles (individually and as churches) we have to short-change God THEN we have to divert even the bulk of THAT back to ourselves as well.
Maybe a little parable will help. Jesus seemed to like those.
Imagine your only child has a tumor. He's just a little kid, say seven years old. He's in the hospital, he's in a lot of pain, he's hooked up to all these machines, he desperately needs treatment, but it's going to cost $250,000 and you don't have any insurance. You, your wife and your friends and family help out and donate money, maybe you even have a telethon. It's a good thing that he looks good in the pictures, because that really helps. People all over are praying for you and sending their $10 and $20 bills in to help. They can just sense from your passion that that this is critically important to you to save this beautiful kid that you love so much. Tears are shed by all. You really mean well and it's all pure and sacrificial.
And it turns out you meet your goal!! The full $250,000 is provided!
But then something inside snaps. Probably because of the big pile of cash you are completely unused to. So you take 95% off the top as administrative costs and go buy a fancy new car, a chandelier, new cushions for your furniture, new carpet, maybe build onto the house, get some new suits -- and you hand the doctors $12,500. Well it turns out that wasn't nearly enough, so you decide to keep raising money until that 5% can add up to the $250,000 you need to save his life. So at that rate, you're going to have to raise $5,000,000 to keep him alive. So you go back out with your plea for more money. You raise up more volunteers, take more pictures of him, maybe testimonials about how the people that helped him feel so good about themselves, maybe you spend a little more money jazzing up the materials you're mailing out. Shoot, you might even hire a consultant. And your wife is getting REALLY good at crying on cue.
At first you try not to make a big deal about all the stuff you bought because you don't want to have to explain it to people. But after a while you get this great new idea. If you tell them that the money you spent on yourself is God's evidence that you are blessed, then you can assert more strongly that they should support you so that THEY can share in YOUR blessing. I know it sounds completely crazy ... but you know, it just might work. People are greedy and selfish and they don't always see the big picture. Namely that it's THEIR money you're being blessed with and your kid is still getting sicker.
I mean, it's clear to everyone that he's in immediate danger and you're not. At some point, folks are going to start catching on because it's fairly likely that if you're this far down that road, you're going to just get more and more over the top. It's just a matter of time until you get your own jet plane and buy more houses for yourself and a stretch limosine and spend thousands on clothes and jewelry. Why not? I mean, this thing might go on forever if you can just reach enough people that haven't already figured it out.
And if it happens that your kid dies because you never do get him the money, well that just makes you even more pitiful and brings more sympathy (that is, cash). Then you can go find somebody else's kid that's in the hospital and try it again. Now you're an "advocate."
At some point you start to wonder how this would play in other countries. Even if they don't have as much money, it's just a math problem - just a matter of how many people you can get to listen. I mean there are suckers all over the world. Why not give it a try?
So, what about the kid? Can you call that anything other than human sacrifice? Who's responsible for his death? The parents? Surely. There will be much darkness and crying and gnashing of teeth at the final judgement.
But what about the people that sent in money? Surely they were just taken for a ride. It can't be THEIR fault. Except that, there is that part about how we're supposed to be good stewards of our money and give without thought of receiving. A lot of those folks sent in their money SO THAT they would be blessed financially. That can't possibly be a Biblically pure motive. Can it? I mean, it's not their fault they didn't ask any questions about how the money was being spent. Yeah, they were a little suspicious, but these are People of God up there on stage. They wouldn't rip us off, would they? I mean, they've got a best selling book out.
Oh, I'm sorry, you're not a part of that whole craziness? You saw right through those guys on the first try? You're just Joe Average American going to a nice quiet chuch and doing the right things? OK, well, let's try this. How much of your stuff do you think belongs to God? I mean, if you say He's LORD and all, that should mean He's the Master and King and you owe Him everything, right? OK, so how are you spending God's money personally?
Odds are pretty good you're spending about 50% of your income on discretionary products - stuff you didn't absolutely need. God's not asking you to starve to death. He loves us and wants us to be happy and content, but He's not really after making us fat and lazy. Where's all that stuff you're buying coming from? What did it take to get it to you at the low, low, one-time only sale prices you paid for it. (I mean, you did shop around, right?)
Ever consider this? Revelation 18:10-13 (ESV)
"Alas! Alas! You great city, you mighty city, Babylon! For in a single hour your judgment has come." And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore, cargo of gold, silver, jewels, pearls, fine linen, purple cloth, silk, scarlet cloth, all kinds of scented wood, all kinds of articles of ivory, all kinds of articles of costly wood, bronze, iron and marble, cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, oil, fine flour, wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and slaves, that is, human souls.
Get it? Do you know what it COSTS for merchants around the world to get that stuff made and bring it here? It costs HUMAN SOULS. How many are having the life sucked out of them in factories around the world so that we can have STUFF? Children, prisoners, widows - Christians in prison even! Ever think of that? That you might go buy a "Made in China" bible cover or cross necklace and it's being made by Chinese pastors in prison who have to work 16 hour days making stuff like that in order to earn dinner? That's just the kind of thing the enemy would have them doing, too. It's happening. Don't think it's not.
Think hard. Are you sure this is what Christ wanted? I mean it's all His stuff right? Or did you not mean "Lord" that way? How many questions are you asking?
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