Friday, October 10, 2008

A "Balaam and the talking Donkey" Moment

A letter to a Pastor friend in response to one I got from him this morning exhorting me about the economic crisis.

Dear Gboyega,

Welcome back. How were your trip and the burial? I trust everything went very well.

Thank you for the exhortation. It is hard not to succumb to fear and despair with all the terrible news out there about the economy. Your prescriptions for cure are right on the money and I have little else to add but for a couple of thoughts that have crossed my mind.

The events happening now, I believe, is what I'll describe as our "Balaam and the talking ass" moment (Numbers 22-24 but particularly Numbers 22:21-35). This economic turmoil is our talking ass. But my fear is we still won't hear Him calling.

Brother we've got a problem as the Body of Christ. Very illustrative and relevant are the letters of John to the 7 churches Revelations 2, 3, and 4. It would be good to examine the complaints God had against those churches and see how they apply to us.

The Message to the Church in Ephesus (Revelation 2:4-5)
You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen!

The Message to the Church in Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11)
One of two churches for which God had no complaints.

The Message to the Church in Pergamum (Revelation 2:14-15)
You tolerate some among you whose teaching is like that of Balaam, who showed Balak how to trip up the people of Israel. He taught them to sin by eating food offered to idols and by committing sexual sin. In a similar way, you have some Nicolaitans among you who follow the same teaching.

The Message to the Church in Thyatira (Revelation 2:20-21)
You are permitting that woman—that Jezebel who calls herself a prophet—to lead my servants astray. She teaches them to commit sexual sin and to eat food offered to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she does not want to turn away from her immorality.

The Message to the Church in Sardis (Revelation 3:1-2)
I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive—but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God.

The Message to the Church in Philadelphia (Revelations 3:7-13)
The other church for which God had nothing but praise

The Message to the Church in Laodicea (Revelations 3:15-17)
I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.

There's none of these transgressions that we do not have happening in our churches today. No love for God, lack of reverence for Him, self centeredness, greed, sexual immorality, you name it. What about the doctrine of the Nicolaitans? This is among us also. Nico (Conqueror)-laitan (Laity) which means Conqueror of the lay people (or the destruction of people). This is the abuse of power by those whom God has appointed as shepherds over His flock i.e. Bishops, Pastors, Ministers, etc.

Some may say at least we don't eat food offered to idols. Well we do, big time. A lot of us worship daily at the altar of mammon. Because according to Matthew 6 19-21,24:

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Which according to NLB:

Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Isn't it interesting what's going on right now in the world's economy: the crashing of the stock market and all? The treasure stores of the world are under the siege - moths are eating them up and rust is destroying them. The altars of mammon are laid bare, stripped naked, and rendered powerless.

The church has bought into the deceitfulness of riches. The gospel of prosperity and material success has taken prominence in our lives. We celebrate the wealthy and barely tolerate the poor. The size of the tithe and offering a man brings is given pre-eminence over the size of the room in his heart for God. Growth of churches today is measured by the number of parishes, how many attend, the offering collected, and the square feet of the church edifice.

I do not claim any expertise in hearing God or eschatology, in fact, as a Pastor, you know these things more than I do. But I somehow have a sense that God is saying something to us, but we are not listening and so can't hear Him. In fact for a long time now God has been trying to catch our attention, but we are no where close to noticing Him.

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Regards to the family,


1 comment:

john said...

God help us all.