Church buildings can be a good thing. Most would argue in favor of their effectiveness and necessity. I’m not opposed to church buildings.
But Jesus never said, “Sell all that you have and build bigger church buildings.”
True, Jesus’ encounter with the rich young ruler gets to the heart of a person’s condition before God, not the ethics of a building campaign. But consider what Jesus says to him.
Better yet, consider what he doesn’t say.
He doesn’t say, “Sell all that you have and help fund a Christian organization . . . or go to the mission field . . . or build bigger church buildings.”
While these things may be well and good, Jesus gets to the heart of the matter when he tells the man to give all his money away to something that’s not religious. Something that’s not very prestigious. Something that might seem like a waste. Something that doesn’t look very kingdom-like. Something that’s not very rewarding.
But that’s where we’re wrong.
And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing; go, and sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Mark 10:21
Sell all your possessions – your house, your land, your cars, your clothing, your appliances, your furniture – all of it. Then take every last dime of the proceeds and give it all to the poor: the family that’s about to be evicted, the young father who never sees his wife and baby because he’s working three jobs to make ends meet, the person who practically lives at the bus stop, the homeless, the needy, the downtrodden, the destitute.
Maybe Jesus never expected us to go that far, as goes the universal decision to hold this requirement to the filthy rich lawyer alone. But the point remains – Jesus never said anything about church buildings.
And it seems to me, that in our 21st-century evangelical world, mega church buildings are on the rise, right along with poverty. We dismiss non-conventional church-meeting options to sacrificially pour our resources into slick, modern chapels which open one day a week for us to worship with ease. Meanwhile, children faint with hunger, women are without hope, and grown men give up on life. How many Sundays do we drive right past the “furtherance of his kingdom,” and treasure in heaven, besides, to get a cup of coffee and sit back in a padded pew.
“But church buildings ultimately help us to give to the poor,” you say.
Oh, good. I suppose you’ll be just as willing to hand over your church contribution to the beggar on the street.
It’s not a church building thing. It’s a heart thing, friend. It’s letting go of what is not ours to give life to those who sit in the dirt. It’s looking at the least of these and seeing Jesus.
[image credit: unsplash.com]