I've been waiting for other men/women of the cloth to weigh in on the likes of Joel Osteen (whose cloth is custom-made only), and it's been a long, frustrating and frankly shocking wait. (I guess those evangelical types tend to have each other's designer-clad backs.) Finally, though, my Jobs-like patience has been rewarded via this piece by Pastor Rick Henderson.
For reasons of time and deadlines, I haven't looked into Henderson's background, so I'm going to assume this isn't just a case of some Osteen competitor/wannabe calling the kettle black, so to speak.
Anyway, I especially like the graph that goes:
There is nothing wrong with being wealthy. I love it when Christians are rich. That should mean more money to fund the mission. But there is a line to how much money we as leaders should spend on ourselves. I don't know where the line is, but it is somewhere before the ministry purchasing million dollar homes for us and our kids. That line is somewhere before purchasing us a $10 million private jet. The line is somewhere before the ministry spending $261, 498 for 68 pieces of furniture. That equates to $3,845.56 per item...Note particularly the way Henderson ties the attainment of great wealth with "more money to fund the mission." Though I'm not crazy about the opening line of the graph, which I think misleads, clearly what he means in context is that there's nothing wrong with becoming wealthy if you then use that wealth for humanitarian purposes. Can a Christian stay wealthy and continue to be a true Christian? I tend to think the answer is no. Scripture isn't my forte, but what about the meek inheriting the Earth and all that? Here I am somewhat reminded of the closing scenes of Schindler's List, where industrialist Otto Schindler is tearfully recounting how many additional lives he might have saved by spending just a few dollars less frivolously here and there. (Play the clip above; it may not fully hit home if you haven't seen the film, but it's worth it for the heartbreaking theme alone.)
So how much money is "enough"? I don't know that either. And I'm not saying that I think people shouldn't be allowed to be wealthy (although I do think that at the upper echelons of American wealth, where right now people are beginning to browse elitist Christmas catalogs in quest of $50,000 espresso makers, the narcissism and general self-indulgence are a bit hard to take). I'm saying I don't understand how a sincere follower of Christ can allow himself or herself to become wealthy. One would think that genuine adherence to one's religious principles would call for, if not exactly a vow of poverty, surely the divestiture of the vast sums that so many wealthy Americans boast.
The bastardization of religion is also visible in the so-called "relevancy" and "felt needs" movements, premised on the notion that if people enjoy doing things at which traditional religion tends to look down its judgmental nose, the obvious course of action is to...redefine the religion so that it now embraces those once-outlying beliefs and/or behaviors.
Once again, see, it's ALL ABOUT YOU!