Monday, June 18, 2007

The Abundance of the American Church

Recently my wife and I finally rented the movie, The Pursuit of Happiness. After hearing so many good reviews of this movie I was not disappointed. As you probably know, the movie is based on the true story of the trials endured by a man and his son as he tries to pull himself out of poverty and homelessness. This movie was able to do something that few movies are able to do anymore. It actually made me think about life.

After watching the struggles of the character played by Will Smith Tina and I were reminded of the many blessings in our lives. This was also a reminder to me of how ungrateful I can be at times. I complain when we don’t have enough money for me to eat out more than once or go to the movies more frequently. Yet we sit in a house we own, we have two nice cars, clothes, and most importantly two beautiful, healthy little girls.

This movie also reminded me of a recent sermon I heard from Dr. David Platt at our youth camp. He noted how much of the world is in desperate financial shape. He discussed the plight of many young children in foreign countries who do not have food to eat. And here I sit complaining that my steak was not cooked to perfection in a nice restaurant.

Don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying that it is bad to enjoy nice things or the blessings of this wonderful nation. I am just confessing my need to be more thankful for the many blessings I enjoy and often take for granted.

However, I do not think it is enough to just express gratitude. All of this also makes me think of the state of the American church. As I drive through different cities I see large church buildings costing millions of dollars. I am aware of the enormous amount of money spent on many frivolous aspects of ministry. Is this right? Could it be that we are spending too much money on our own creature comforts? Could it be that while we sit in our nice multi-million dollar buildings we are turning a deaf ear to the suffering of many other people?

I am not saying that it is sinful to have a nice building. However, Jesus’ statement in Luke 12 comes to mind, “for everyone who has been given much, much will be required.” The American church has been given enormous freedom and resources. And to the credit of many godly men and women much good has been done. The SBC alone has sponsored thousands of missionaries all over the world. I have seen the graciousness of many men and women from churches across the nation reach out to people in need during times of crisis such as Hurricane Katrina. But can we do more? I think the answer is an emphatic yes. I believe our churches need to have more of a desire to reach out and help those in need. We need to focus more energy on spreading the gospel and less on building comfortable buildings. We need to spend less on temporary structures and more on things that are eternal.

I do believe that God has blessed this nation. However, these blessings are not to be kept to ourselves. The American church has the ability to make a huge difference in the lives of millions across the world. We have the resources to help expand the gospel into all the nations. Ultimately, we have been blessed so that we can be a blessing to others. We have been given much, I think much will be required.