The business of Christianity
In my opinion, mainstream Christianity has turned into a multi – billion dollar business. There are Christian bookstores with all kinds of merchandise, clothing, jewelry and of course many books by hundreds of authors who write about the Christian lifestyle and how to live a better life. People are buying all kinds of artwork like pictures for example with scripture verses or biblical sceneries to decorate their homes. They buy jewelry, they wear Christian merchandise and put bumper stickers on their cars. (I have a couple on my car).
I have to admit that I also have a pretty extensive library of books myself, commentaries, concordances and of course several Bibles. To be honest, I have not read most of them thoroughly. They sit on my shelf and I might pick up one from time to time and glance through one.
I still prefer to just read the Bible. The best commentary on the Bible, is the Bible itself. There are so many commentaries out there and sometimes it’s hard to know which one is a good one. Commentaries always infuse to one degree or another the authors opinions and viewpoints. I use a study Bible, mine is the John MacArthur Study Bible and the Chuck Smith Word for today study Bible. Sorry, I’m getting off track here. Big business in Christianity, lot’s of money to be made.
I see so many Pastors of larger churches that write books, release DVD’s and sell, them for a hefty price. I know that many good books have been written and I have enjoyed some of them of course, but I’m looking at the big picture, I’m sure that most authors are kingdom oriented, but there is number of authors that are looking to make a profit. They use Christianity as a lucrative business. Christianity sells. They visit various churches for a speaking engagement and these guys are getting paid for by the church to speak and promote their book(s).
I realize that it costs money to keep the lights on at church and that requires money. I also believe that people should give to the church that they attend and call their home church. Unfortunately there are some out there that want to make what the Bible calls sordid gain. Just like those who made a profit of the people who came to the temple in the days of our Lord. Jesus got pretty angry about them making profit and scamming the people, He threw them out.
Whatever happened to “freely you have received, freely you give?” The Lord never sold anything or made a profit of anyone, contrary, He paid a heavy price to purchase and redeem us: His blood.
Then of course we have the churches themselves, many are focusing on the appearance of the sanctuary, big sound systems, light shows and bands that perform rather than worshiping the Lord. Loud music, a performance to please the audiences, but do they necessarily please the Lord? Some pastors dress up in modern fashion (ripped jeans, trendy shirts) to look hip, they wanna relate to the new generation and look and act just like them. All of these things are just outward appearances.
What is the purpose of the church? The purpose of the church is for the equipping of the saints for ministry. To teach and study the Bible and to send out those who are called to reach the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ….” Eph 4:11, 12.
That is the purpose of the church. In order to that, do we need to have a stages with light shows and special effects? Do we need to dress a certain “Christian way”? Do we need to look Christian or should be Christian i.e Christ like? The Apostles and the early church didn’t need or use any kind of dramatic demonstrations or clothing. They came to the people as they were in honesty and truth. The preached Christ and Him crucified and risen. They didn’t need anything else, except the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
“And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” 1Cr 2:1-5.
Paul and the others preached the gospel i.e the good news and nothing else. They came humbly and in love to the people who had not heard the gospel. How did the people received faith, by outward appearances or by the word of God? It was by the word of God that many came to faith in Christ. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Rom 10:17.
In conclusion, we may have many churches that want to be contemporary, relevant and hip today. I’m not condemning that, I think some of it is needed to reach a younger generation to Christ. But I do sometimes question the motives behind some of these above mentioned things. Is the church trying to increase the number of people attending church and drawing them by apparel? I still believe and I always will believe that if the church teaches the word of God, people will come.
The word of God should bring the people to church, not light shows and performing bands. Simply teach the Bible simply. “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23, 24.
No matter what kind of clothing I might wear or how the church conducts their services or how many books I might read, if I don’t worship the Lord in spirit and in truth, all is in vain. It is not the outside, it’s a matter of the heart.