January 10, 2011

Professional Christian

1. Acts 8:
[9] But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:
[10] To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.
[11] And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.
[12] But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
[13] Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.
[14] Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:
[15] Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:
[16] (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
[17] Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
[18] And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,
[19] Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.
[20] But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.
[21] Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.
[22] Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.
[23] For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.
[24] Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.
[25] And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel.
Is there any relationship between money and the gospel? It is mentioned now and then, here and there; two other passages come to mind:

2. Acts 18:3 (King James Version):
And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.

3. Luke.10:7: And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house.

Some critical scholars (like myself) might see an apparent contradiction here. Does a Christian profit financially from his spiritual gift? Fox of course didn't believe in it; he ranted about hireling priests.

That message reached me after 8 years as a professional minister; the parishioners bought a lovely house for me and my family; I also noticed that most of them lived in houses of a poorer sort. I noticed that very few of my associates seem to have any problem with that.

Things came to a head when I visited a moderately large church, on denominational business. I discovered that the pastor had one guiding feeling: he really felt like he needed two Buicks (or was it Oldsmobiles): one for his use and the other for his daughter's use.

I noticed also that my fellow ministers, especially the most 'successful' ones, seemed to spend most of their time with the banker and other prosperous members.

Can one be a professional Christian? It's a matter of values and of your theology. Is it of the Norman Vincent Peale type (God will make you rich!), or do you hearken more to
Matthew 25?


At 3:52 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wondering, what did you do with the house?

At 7:08 a.m., Blogger Larry said...

Gospel of Mikjij: I'm wondering why you're curious about my house. I've had many houses; I left the one I mentioned in the post and went to another. I often reflect on the house statements in the Christian Gospel, especially "In my Father's house..." and the one about whoever gives his house will receive seven fold. I'm wondering just where that is.

Of course more fruitful discourse follows personal acquaintance-- virtual or otherwise.


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