The name Oral Roberts dredges up memories of a man whose lifelong ministry fell into disrepute when in January of 1987, he claimed God would “call him home” if he did not raise $8 million for his struggling ministry by March of that year. Though he was never accused of any financial malfeasance, he would tearful beg for support of his ministry while living a shamelessly opulent lifestyle.
Fast forward to 2015, Creflo A. Dollar (unfortunate name) seems to be following in Roberts footsteps. He is the Senior Pastor of World Changers Church International based in Atlanta, Georgia. According to a New York Times article he owns “a Rolls Royce, private jets, [a] million-dollar Atlanta home and 2.5 million Manhattan apartment.” Recently when his ministry decided one of his jets needed to be replaced, he initially asked for 200,000 people to donate $300 to pay the bulk of the $65,000,000 needed to purchase a Gulfstream G650, a pricey replacement.
Roberts and Dollar, and their “prosperity Gospel” buddies give Christianity a black eye when they make it all about that buck. When Jesus was asked by a rich man, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replied, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, and follow me,” Luke 18:18, 22.
Jesus told the rich man to sell what he had and to give it to the poor; many televangelists tell their followers to sell what they have and give it to them. Modern televangelists do not seem to be concerned with “pie in the sky, in the sweet by-and-by” they want it “down on the ground while they’re still around.”
I can understand our culture’s disenchantment with Christianity when those who claim to preach the Gospel are more concerned about their donation than their salvation. I know churches need money to operate and ministers need to make a livable income, but there is vast difference between living simply and living extravagantly.
There is nothing inherently righteous about being either rich or poor. When it comes to possessions it is all about stewardship. Righteousness does not lie in what you possess, it lies in how you use what God has blessed you with. The love of money becomes the root of all evil when we allow our possessions to possess us.
Gospel singer and author Kirk Franklin said it best, “When a pastor wants people to buy him a private plane while a missionary in Somalia bathes children with sores, that’s a shortage of character. When I camouflage my ‘greeds’ to look like ‘needs,’ that’s a shortage of character.”
Jesus asked, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the world whole and forfeits his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:26. Being a Christian is not all about that buck.