Saturday, 10 March 2012

Jesus will crack the whip again

Many rational people would react when they see that something isn't right. Whatever made Jesus to react this way might have been very infuriating. Jesus went to the Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover and ended up doing a clean up exercise in the temple. In the process many of the people gathered were whipped. Would Jesus crack the whip if he visited a worship place today? I would say yes. One may be tempted to say that wouldn't happen today because we no longer offer animal sacrifice. If you look at it that way then you've missed the main point of Jesus's action. It was a religious practice for people to offer animal sacrifice so Christ didn't have any problem with that. His protestation was against the businesses set up to exploit people on the way to worship and offer their sacrifice. The merchants were the ones directing the worshippers what animal to buy and the size. The value of the sacrifice had been lost. The merchants were doing everything they could to benefit financially from the animal sacrifice.

Fast forward that exploitation to today and you'll realised that the situation is worse. The level of exploitation that goes around in the name of Christianity and worship is unbelievable. Today church isn't just an institution preparing people for heaven. Church is now a multi billion dollar business with many stakeholders; pastors, musicians, authors all position themselves to gain as much as they can get. Today, people will package anything for sale; prayers, counselling, sermons, music etc.. I had an email from a pastor asking me to pay some US dollars and in exchange download "how you can make visitors stay in your church". I hit the delete button quickly. You can keep your master plan for making visitors stay in church. Sow a seed of $50.00 dollars and see your life transformed within weeks.What! Where do we read in the Bible that Jesus asked for anything in return for something? If he asked anything at all it was a simple question, do you believe?

I believe that churches and pastors must do everything they can to get the gospel message out but sometimes the extravagant and aggressive tools employed by some churches and pastors makes me wonder whether it's about themselves or the gospel. It seems pastors aren't happy with just being pastors. They want to be authors, councillors, musicians etc... The amount of money spent in publicizing their books, music etc. is shocking.  They move from one radio, TV stations to another publicizing their books and music. What happened to the good old gospel? Are we demanding these from our pastors; are church goers demanding that pastors become authors, musicians at the same time? 

While admitting that God has blessed some people with multi talents and therefore all must be put to good use, we need to check that pastors don't lose focus of their primary work i.e. to spread the gospel. Remember they get more money from the sale of books and music than from preaching the gospel. Sadly, the target audience of all the book and music sale isn't the unchurched (those not in church), but the people who are already in church.  So while they smile about their bank balances the average church member is struggling to survive. We spend our meagre salaries on their books, sermons and music.

The excessive advert and posturing of some pastors trying to out-do one another is worrying. Christians have to be discerning to identify people who are using Christianity to advance their own popularity and income. We don't have to follow pastors and everything they do or put in the market as if they're the convey-er belts the heavenly gate. Christ might whip those pastors who sold to us all the wrong stuffs but we might not be spared for buying them. We too would be whipped. Let's put God above everything else.