For the Love of God! (Professionals or Amateurs?) Part 1 of 4

franknernest2003091355227“Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? … God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise… the weak things of the world to shame the strong… the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.” 1 Corinthians 1:20-29

“Amateur” – 1. A person who engages in a pursuit on an unpaid basis. 2. Someone considered contemptibly inept or unskillful at a particular activity. Origin: from amare ‘to love’.

I’m an “Amateur Christian.”

Amateurs do what they do, not for pay but for the love of it. They’re not experts, but they do their thing out of sheer enjoyment. That pretty much describes the kind of Jesus followers I prefer to hang around. They do God’s work for the sheer love of it. They don’t expect any pay – financial or otherwise – and, as amateurs are, they’re quite aware of their ineptness at it. They dedicate their incompetence to the God they love and hope he’s blessed by it. When they think of blessings, it’s more about the kind that make God happy rather than themselves. They’re blessed if he is. Period. That’s the kind of Christian I try to be – an amateur – though still quite inept, following Jesus for the love of it.

I’m pretty content as an amateur, and have no plans to ever advance to pro. I don’t aspire to ever be a “Professional Christian,” which can be even worse than a professional preacher. “God experts” is an oxymoronic phrase if I’ve ever heard one! How can anyone be an expert at what they can’t possibly comprehend or contain? Anybody that claims otherwise is a fool or self-deceived. Regardless of how long we’ve been studying God and following him – for me it’s about forty-two years now – we’re all just amateur followers.

Amateur Christians aren’t in it for the pay…

I’m a big baseball fan. I really dig it when the season rolls around and I can listen to games on the radio on warm summer days and nights. But for all my love of the game I’ve been a hairsbreadth away from giving it up because of the all the money involved in the Major Leagues. It really gets to me that the majority of the world starves on about a dollar a day while a guy in knickers who can hit and catch a ball can make six figures per game! But I cave in every year and pretend they do it for the love of the game! Ha ha!

We all know that there are preachers who fleece the flock and live in nauseating luxury. One such unnamed phony flies around in a $17.5 Jet, lives in a $6 million lakefront mansion with a 1,500 acre campus and his own private airstrip. Another well-known prosperity teller of lies lives in a $10.5 million 17,000 square foot mansion! How many kids does that guy have? These disgusting mercenaries for the gospel make it hard for the rest of us to look our friends in the eye and encourage them to believe in our Savior!

These posers concoct a doctrine of prosperity to justify their own greed and opulent lifestyles and to lure unsuspecting folk into their lair. Bill Maher nailed it when he said, “For 2000 years Christians have been lawyering the Bible.” These devious preachers wind up rich in the process and guarantee prosperity to their largest donors. The promise of prosperity is an effective way to get a crowd but not the way to please God and make healthy disciples!

A few years ago there was a provocative question circulating among church planters and pastors, “If no one paid you to do what you do would you do it anyway?” I thought it was a valid query, but I never heard so much umming and ahhing among people who were otherwise such articulate communicators. Their non-communication communicated after all.

I confess that I received the financial support of generous brothers and sisters for many years as a pastor, and still do without solicitation or newsletters. But I’ve always believed that we don’t pay people to minister to us but support them when it seems necessary so they can. It’s a biblical principle. But to my mind it’s the seven-figure preacher’s paycheck that’s indefensible.

I could go on and on about this, but I really have another point to make that hits closer to home for non-preachers. As heinous as mercenary ministers are, for every one of them there are millions of mercenary Christians. Everyone that I know is righteously riled about the rock star preacher strutting around in his $5000 suits and Versace shoes pocketing his poor flock’s rent money. But how is that so different when, instead of serving God for the love of it, you do it for pay? Yeah right! Wait, what? What pay?

That’s next…

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