1. THE DOCTRINE ON MONEY
I was in a gathering of saints at Iju on the eleventh of September, 2016 worshipping God. The service was glorious and powerful. But during the Sunday School the teacher had taught us that many Christians in the end time run after money instead of running after or with God. After the teaching, I asked, ‘‘Sir, is money really bad.’’ Others were marvelled at my question and must have thought of me as a strange fellow or a babe in Christ. The teacher, looking at me fixedly, answered me scripturally and logically, trying to be simple as addressing a babe, to convince me and make me decide to take his answer as a truth.
‘‘Well, my brother, money is bad. The Bible says that money is the root of all evil.’’ I should deduce as he expected that evil is bad and so money is definitely bad and that the root of evil is worse, being the most important thing to be destroyed if evil must be eliminated. He said, ‘‘Remember Christ said that we should seek first the Kingdom of God and all other things shall be added unto thee. It is a pity that many Christians now run after money whereas it is money that should be running after us.’’
I clearly understood his fear that running after many would cause someone to forsake God. That, of a truth, is worth a consideration. Nevertheless, beyond the ken of my teacher’s fear of money, I knew money is not the root of all evil. Money is good, great and given. I wanted to ask series of questions, scripturally and logically but The Holy Ghost forbade me. I realised there’s nothing I could have said within that limited time that would do good. So I kept quiet. I had regretted speaking when the Holy Ghost forbade me, twice and I had prayed for mercy. I had learnt that my intention or zeal would be to blame if it does not comply with the leading of the Holy Ghost. It would be self-glorifying and self-destructive to query further. Now, when the people had gathered from different classes a brother asked a question, ‘‘can we do evangelism without money?’’ I listened to the pastor’s response interestedly. And he was categorical in his assertion that ‘‘we cannot do evangelism without money.’’
He asked questions, ‘‘with what do we print tracts? With what do we get microphone and speakers in cases of crusade? With what do we transport? If we would give free copies of Bible with what are we going to do that? If we want to build a ‘church’ with what are we going to do that near the people?’’ He said it’s impossible to evangelise without money. I liked that better even if I still wanted to examine the word impossible because I prefer the word ‘difficult’ to ‘impossible’ in any case.
He was right. Wasn’t he? But Jesus didn’t use microphone when he gave Sermon on the Mount and Peter, on the day of Pentecost, didn’t use a microphone, we might want to argue. We’d be right because both Jesus and Peter didn’t. But we need to consider a great role that money play in the sustenance of the early church. Converts chose to join the disciples and thus joined the church. We are made to know that Peter preached ‘‘And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need (Acts 2:44-45). I think Peter would not agree that it was wrong for those people to possess portions of land or houses or wealth. Part of soul winning is sharing. Sharing the word? That’s the basis and the main but sharing, in terms of what is needed such as food, clothing, money, shelter and rendering of help, financially, professionally and in other ways, is importantly part of soul winning. Money is needed now as it was needed then. We also read, ‘‘And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common (Acts 4:32).’’ The church would have been the scariest group to join if it were a gathering of immiseration or an assembly of celebration of impoverishment. The converts had become sheep of God and had joined the sheepfold. And their shepherd is the Lord. They shall not want. In fact, the church must be rich albeit not for ranking sake but for welfare-of-the-saints’ sake since selfishness must not be part of the church:
Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet (Acts 4:35-37).
We must note the clause, ‘and brought the money.’ Which money? The money they had made. I do know that many would start to argue again that the money is strictly what the made by selling their possessions, implying that it’s ungodly to own houses or portions of land. We may need to remind such people that in Paul’s journey he had lodge in some people’s houses and in some of his epistles he had spoken of ‘the church in their house.’ We read, ‘‘Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my well-beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ (Romans 16:5).’’ That should quell any anti-housing dogma.
As the Pastor answered the brother’s question, he affirmed that the church really needs money to further the course of evangelism. But I was taught that money is bad by one of the Sunday School teachers. The way I looked at it, the response I got in the class wasn’t the teacher’s view but that denomination’s stance on money. I knew that because others, members of that church were surprised at my question and they were pleased with the teacher’s answer. They had consented with nods. So, I began to wonder if money is good only when it’s used for evangelism. I wanted the Holy Ghost to tell me more and let me know if being rich or very rich is forbidden for the children of the Kingdom who really are on The Way. And one thing is for certain, the Holy Ghost is our counsellor, our teacher our guide and our ready help in time of confusion. I rested assured He would teach me more. That’s Him. One way or another, sooner or later as it pleases Him or perhaps as it depends on my attentiveness; He would explain to me things that bother my mind, especially concerning scriptures, doctrines and the Kingdom. That’s why Christians need Him intimately.