From what I have seen lately, many Christian's are being selfish. I am sure that some of you are like, no way. Others are probably nodding their heads along with me. Before you decide which side to stand on, hear me out. Bear with me a minute because you may not like what I am about to tell you.
Dictionary.com defines selfish as: devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one's own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others. You might be asking yourself how does the term selfish and Church go together? I never put the two together until recently. To explain my observation, let me tell you a little story about my Church life. It all begins with good intentions and ends in selfishness.
So I attended a local Church for many years after I graduated high school. The key catchphrase at the time was keep the main thing the main thing. To me, that means to keep God first in everything that you do. This statement is pretty cut and dry if you ask me. Well, this Church grew and grew for many years. Flourishing because of the sound Biblical teachings and selflessness exhibited by many who attended the Church. I even recall every Sunday the pastor telling everyone to squeeze to the end of the pews to fit more people in because the service was full. We had to get out of our comfort zone and squeeze together tightly to make room for others. The Church kept growing and eventually held four services.
Quit being selfish and keep growing.
When the Church kept growing, we were told to keep the main thing the main thing. We were to consider the growth a blessing because of all the new people that were being drawn to Christ. I couldn't have agreed more. A year or so passed and the Church was busting at the seems still. They decided to open up a second location and have a satellite service to accommodate all of the new attendees. Eventually, this was too much to handle, and the Church ended up building a new building.
After many years of planning and months of building, the new facility was finished. This grand monstrosity housed thousands of weekly attendees every Sunday. Shortly after the paint had dried, the Church began an expansion of the already enormous facility. Fittingly so, the first capital campaign was called Embracing Faith. We were supposed to embrace our faith in the Lord and provide our resources to build a facility to house many believers. Once we reached this milestone, it was on to Embracing Faith 2.0.
Where has the focus gone?
Since we did not embrace enough faith the first time around, we were called on again to embrace more faith. The Church pastor even went as far as to send letters to Church members guilting them into donating even more money. As Church members, we were called to take money out of our savings, cancel vacations and cut our extracurricular activities to embrace more faith. More than half of the Church sermons focused on giving. When I say giving, I mean giving money. Instead of the main thing being God, the main thing was now money.
If you did not participate and embrace the asks for giving, then you were not following Biblical protocol. Last time I checked, the New Testament did not instruct our giving to be determined by the Church. On verse from 2 Corinthians comes to mind when I think about giving.
2 Corinthians 9:7 NASB Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
When you badger and guilt, you do not create a cheerful giver. Putting your Church members under compulsion does not follow Biblical standards either.
Where are we at now?
- As I have written about this before, I left this Church when the main thing quit being about the main thing. When selfishness overtook the hearts of many, it was time to check out. Here is why I left my Church.
- The message of salvation took the second stage to the offering plate being shoved in your face.
- I got tired of my email and snail mailbox being flooded with asks for more money.
- I was no longer going to support a full-service cafe in a Church so that the pastoral staff would have a place to socialize.
- The multi-million dollar sound system wasn't doing it for me anymore as well.
- I like going to concerts, but I don't want to jam out for half of the Church service playing musical chairs of sitting and standing after every song.
- The Church is not like the Field of Dreams movie, if you build it they will come. If you build it, they will leave.
- The radical attempt to be a hip high school room was over the top.
Since many in charge of the decision-making process in this Church got their selfish way, the bottom has given out. Church attendance has gone from thousands to hundreds. I haven't heard so many people move away from an area since Moses left Egypt. Why do I mention all of these things? Because when people are selfish, stuff like this happens. Everyone that had their hand in the cookie jar pulled for more money to be spent on the things that they wanted. They lost sight of the main thing, and through their selfishness, they pushed people away.
What I want you to remember is keep the main thing the main thing. God is the main thing that we should pour our resources into. Pouring our resources into an amusement park of a Church does nothing to further God's kingdom, but fuel the fire of being selfish. It is time to quit putting our needs above our calling. God will provide us with the resources necessary to complete our God-given task.
Tonight I will leave you with this.
James 3:14-16 NASB But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.