“Then one from the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But He said to him, “Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?” And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” ‘ But God said to him,…‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12 13-21).
There are many scriptures in the Bible where errors were pointed out clearly, many, where God mentioned the woes of false prophets, but there is none, in my candid opinion, that succinctly and compendiously captures the beginning of errors of the Church like the verses quoted above if we read and understand the content. What Christ called the Church is definitely not what we have in most places today. What we call the Church now is mostly a lunacy, a deranged aberration, and a counterfeit of what should be. An understanding of where the stench of the popular error comes from will be a good place to start to retrace our steps, if the sincerity of purpose is written in goldstone.
The Church of today has become a total agenda to garner money and use to build inheritance and a name. Just look deeper into where you are and around you and see the multi-trillion dollar projects going on all over the place, and you will be convinced the Church is in the realm of the worldly affinity to continue to build ‘a clay house on a clay soil’. Most of the Church I know is involved in one building project or the other, in the name of spreading the gospel or adding value to lives of people in various communities. And that in itself sound justifiable, since lives will be touched. Well, that is where the error of sound judgment comes in to play. Building what, will be the right question to ask, and where or for what purpose and what reasons.
There are buildings and there are ‘buildings’. What makes the difference is the eternal value of the intent. I am not saying the Church should not build, but I’m saying the ‘Church’ is building so much out of Godly purpose to satisfy self, compete with others or simply create a sense of belonging or relevance. Others build to create an atmosphere of absolute affluence because ‘God is rich’ while others are treacherously doing it to undo a close rival. Unfortunately, I see some, who in the past will not identify with the crowd, but now sold into the same frenzy of same error in another name.
Why is our focus so much on what we have going on in this earth than what eternal value we can add to eternity in God? I know ministries or Churches (as we call them) that have been building since inception. It has always been from one project to the other.
We build schools that people cannot afford, which invariably teach them to steal and rob. We build edifices and aesthetic structures that are dreamlands because we are simply twisted in the understanding that a man, more than structures needs to be built. We build auditorium or tabernacles that are aesthetically beautiful with all kinds of internal dirt, and we praise God on commissioning dates.
Everything the world does outside of God is what we also do in the Church and we celebrate as miracles. We have reduced signs and wonders to simple commodity of happenstance because we lost our rudder to the original.
We struggle and manipulate to get some things done behind and turn around to sing songs of praise as God’s doings. Since a lot of money is needed for our voyage, we have no choice than to welcome the ‘rich’ and preserve them in places of importance in our hearts. Those who give to satisfy our hearts desire are more heaven–worthy than those who cannot afford to, all in the bid to have a name and renown.
Let us glean from the scriptures we started with and see what is in stock from what Jesus taught with those verses. The entire quote started with a very deep question that seems to provoke an answer that is retortive and abortive. What must have provoked Jesus, a teacher, a prophet and master, to give such an answer?
The question was not insulting, neither does it seem irrelevant, it suggest it came from a heart that does want equity and fairness, and no fight with his brother. Jesus allowed the question anyway and yet provided the kind of answer that is more deeply relevant to life than a man seeking peace on inheritance (which is a Godly law).
“Who made me a judge or an arbitrator over you?” That seems contradictory to what the Bible said about Jesus as our judge, lawgiver and our king (Isaiah 33:22). However, Jesus is not a judge on mundane worldly things, especially when it has nothing to do with the kingdom. He is the eternal judge of all. Inheritances have become such a concern to humanity that it has captured our focus of eternity. Inheritance here does not only mean what is passed on through generations, it could also mean what we provide for ourselves and for a future yet to come.
That is the race of life these days, with all attention towards what can accrue and guarantee tomorrow, and we preach it with joy. We simply take the heart of men from trusting God while they do what is ‘needed and essential’. Many will rather see a poor man die than not put money in savings for another day. Churches will rather put funds in building project than put life back into a dying situation that needs it. It is all about what we can possess onto ourselves, or what will accrue to us in the future – a glory, a name, an accolade etc.
All of these things are inheritances. So much of what we call a Church is a private enterprise where the ‘owner’ identifies himself publicly. You hear statements like “my church” or “President” and other very subtle names that mean the same thing but only redressed to deceive. Jesus here saw into the heart of the Church in the man who asked the question, and provided an answer for time eternal. Here is the fine thin line of what defines what we build in sincerity –INHERITANCE.
The word seems harmless, but it carries a deadly poison to lurk man into error. Here is the simple reason behind all the errors of the present ‘Church’. Here is the deadly magnate that attract minister into several errors we talk about today among those who claim to follow Christ.
One old minister recently tried to use a multi-million dollar Church building to secure a private loan for his family in the U.S. Why? Because he has always known in his heart that the structure is his, even though he has preached severally that it belongs to God. How dare you say your earthly worm-prone structure belongs to God? We treat such buildings with more care than we even treat lives in it. Why? Because it is an inheritance! Many of them are very clear about it so they have nothing to hide.
It is simply called after their names. Some will have two or three names, but one of such is their own name because it is all a façade.
I have tried not to reduce my writing to a presumed attack on any man or men, but a lesson for all to learn from. Private secondary schools and universities built by the evangelical Churches in the last 50 years or so are personal entities that members of their congregation cannot even lay claim to in any way possible. Some have begun to tell the public that monies used to build such are from private donors and not pew members.
“Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses”. Remember the question was to avoid a fight between two brothers, but Jesus here sensed much more than that. He realized that the Church would get to where we are today, where covetousness will be the ruling order. Just check out the passion and demeanor with which messages on giving money is done compared to other messages of faith and tell me if it is not visibly clear where the pendulum tilts.
Verses of scriptures are deliberately misapplied to tie a heavy burden of lawfulness to tithes and other sundry offerings. It is now very ideal for a Pastor to preach messages of his own prosperity, so as to provoke the Church to do his bidding. I hear it on TV daily. It is an old psychology that is still working in the Church. Jesus never did, Paul never did, Peter never did! No example of such in the old way.
Covetousness is when you do all to get others doing what will benefit you alone. It is a craving for possession. An inherent thirst to build more and have more, either in name, relevance, renown, reputation, honor, accolade, decorations etc. It is not only about money. Success has become defined in such anomaly, and so many are running the race to meet up. Some are honestly and sincerely ignorant of this trap of the enemy, and that is why my writing is not to condemn anyone but to intreat elders of the Church to come back to building lives and not structures that are external and destructible.
“Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”
I am sure we could understand that Christ was talking to the Church as the certain rich man, and not addressing the wealthy heathen. The field of the Church is still yielding a plentiful harvest, and the popular thought now with the Church, is to pull down and build a bigger place (barn) – Bigger auditorium, tabernacle, temple, Church buildings, income-generating businesses etc, at the expense of spiritual growth and development. The idea has always been to have bigger space for more harvest, bigger places for bigger crowd, edifices for better recognition etc.
We are just building more and more into the world as if it is a permanent place for us. We are building bigger to increase the temptation of our appetite for greater worldly investment when it is all coming to ruins.
Ordinarily, you will think it is the right thing to do when you have enough harvest, but Jesus said no. You are to use what you have in excess for those who have not, while you trust God for tomorrow. I am not against planning for one’s future, but against taking trust out of the situation entirely. You cannot guarantee your future with all you can provide and accumulate. The world teaches what Jesus is against in that thread or verses.
The Church is now the most rewarding economic powerhouse as an investment. One reason why everyone is now a Pastor and own or wants to own a Church is the economic return. Most of the teachings in Church now are about finance, and ultimately to get more money coming in. Even when trust or faith is taught, it ends up in raising money.
The Church of Christ is NOT about building edifices or external structures that have no relevance with our walk with Him, but to build an eternal value of eternal worth for the unending. Ask why Churches are involved in building colleges, high schools, hospitals etc, and the deeper answer will be beyond to help, but to acquire more funds to run another race of life. Those who have so much are still looking for more. Thank God for the missionaries of the past who built life-changing structures but charged nothing and left it with us after giving us the message of truth. In the midst of the travesty, there are few doing the work with fear and zest of God. I commend them with God’s grace.
Last Word:Pastor, Shepherd or Bishop or Minister is serving. Don’t lie to yourself!
Olumide Goodness Adeyinka can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org