evangelizing on commission

a recent commenter on the beaten-up Indian evangelist story charged that converts were being bought by the Christian. i noted that he was credited with 700 converts and wondered where he would have gotten that much money. but i think this might not be an uncommon charge against missionaries. why would this charge be made? perhaps a non-convert, especially in a Christian-minority country can not conceive of any other reason for a poor fellow citizen to abandon their social safety lines unless there was another safety net to fall into. certainly people have been so impressed with the generosity of western missionaries they presume conversion will lead to more material benefits, and, indeed, since Christians are generous, they are generally correct. but the evangelist is hoping for the converted heart, not converted pocketbook. Jesus himself warned "As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful." (Matt 18:32). An evangelist knows that a convert set on wealth hasn't truly been regenerated by the Holy Spirit because, 1 Timothy 6:10 "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." and Hebrews 13:5 "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." and Luke 16:13 "No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." and Ecclesiastes 5:10 "Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless." Luke12:20-21 "But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself? This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God."
In fact Jesus' instructions can lead to poverty pretty quickly,
27"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31Do to others as you would have them do to you. 32"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. 33And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. 34And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. 35But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6)


Jesus encourages his followers to look to him for provision and exemplify his generosity to others. Luke 12:32-34 "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

This plays out in Jesus' promise of heavenly reimbursement in Luke 16:9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.

if evangelists are stealing souls by paying for them then those souls are easily bought back. if their motives are purely monetary, then their conversion is only temporary and hardly a threat to social order. but if their conversion is one of heart and soul, nothing physical shall produce change in the spiritual. if they converted for money, threats of violence will be as effective as more money, and cheaper, but if they converted because they have been convicted of their sins, and they desire to live forever, and they have faith in Jesus Christ, then they are lost to Hinduism or Islam or Buddhism or spiritism. And if their lot in life is improved, if their happiness is elevated, if their approach to the world is enlarged, why beat them down? jealousy? mad with their uppitiness? a freed soul is a dangerous soul indeed. it can't be oppressed any longer. it no longer answers out of subservience. it responds in authority, the authority of the supreme ruler.

Comments

Joe said…
I think that love of money causes more issues in Christianity than almost any other thing. It is difficult, in our affluent society, not to focus on money. Think how hard it must be in less affluent societies.

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