“Now this was the sin of …Sodom: … arrogant, overfed and unconcerned, they did not help the poor and needy” (Ezek 16:49).
What a wonderful thing to live as a Christian in a free and prosperous land. We hear God’s Word every Sunday in church, during the week at the prayer meeting, and even on radio and TV. We can buy Bibles everywhere, and commentaries, and Christian books about every subject under the sun. There is Christian music to gloriously sing along with, there are countless Bible Schools and courses to equip us for service, conferences to help us grow, holiday resorts to relax, Christian magazines to stay in touch, and even a Bible-phone for instant prayer. There are Christian choirs, publishers, mental health centres, youth camps, puppet theatres, travel agencies, marriage and other counselors, courses in handling depression, correspondence clubs, sports camps, drugs centres, sing-ins … and a lot more.
Wasting the Word
We, in the West, do not only have material wealth, but also an abundance of spiritual food. We are all aware of the fact that we do not use our material wealth wisely. We live in a “throw-away” society. We buy our appliances, our clothes, our furniture, not to last us a lifetime, but to replace them as soon as possible with the newest model. Once a product is slightly outdated it goes outside with the trash. Many a poor man in India would gratefully use our “trash” to furnish his whole house and serve him for many years. And thousands of people who are spiritually starving would become dedicated men of God on the spiritual food that we receive in one week’s time. Or do we not really “receive” it anymore? Do we not really digest our spiritual food, just as we do not use up our material goods? And is this the reason why we need more and more food to just survive as a Christian? Jesus teaches us not only to hear his Word, but also to let it penetrate deeply into our hearts, and to put it in practise as soon as it is heard.
Not long ago I visited a small town in northern India. As soon as I had booked my hotel room I went out to look for a believing church or even just one single Christian. I asked everywhere and searched in every street. I could not find even one born-again Christian. So, that Sunday I sat in my room, I read my Bible, and I prayed all alone. The Lord gave me the comforting words that “his grace was sufficient for me” (2 Cor 12:9). But I also deeply realized that the many thousands living in this town had not heard of God’s grace even once. How much could be done here with just one spiritual word, one Bible, one dedicated missionary really serving the Lord.
I remembered the statistics I had read earlier about how we Christians use our God-given finances and manpower. In the West, there is about one Christian leader for every three to four hundred people, in the rest of the world there is one for every 450 thousand! 94% of all the money given by Christians is used for the spiritual wellbeing of only 6% of the world population. And only 0.5% of all Christian finances is actually used for bringing the Gospel to people who have never heard it, about three billion people in all. There are sixteen thousand ethnic groups that do not even have one church, and five thousand languages still wait for a Bible translation. The population of the world is spiritually dying. But who can we blame for this worldwide disaster?
There is much sorrow and pain in God’s heart for the many millions who are lost without Him, but also for those of his children who live in material and spiritual luxury, and seem to be deaf to his calling.
Pray that the Lord will grant us wisdom in how we use our material and spiritual wealth. And that He will teach us to share that wealth with the starving people of this world.