“After weeks of praying, I have decided to transfer to another church because I can get more financial help and support there than here. I know that staying here will challenge and help me grow more in my relationship with God but that is not what I need at the moment.”
That statement is indeed a hard pill to swallow.
This is not the first time I have heard of someone who is staying in a church or has transferred to another church so he/she could network with people who can financially help him/her and his/her family. I knew people who, because they needed a stable job, needed connections for their networking jobs, needed a place to stay and/or needed to cost-cut for their wedding, chose to stay or transfer in a church that can financially help them.
I even remember someone say, “The only reason I am staying here is because the church members here are generous and I am sure they can help me once I graduate — like find or pay rent for me. My family is in the province so I need people whom I can easily run for help from when I’m broke.”
I also encountered someone who asked for financial assistance from the church for her mom’s cancer treatment… only to find out later on that she plundered money from donations to buy herself an iPhone and a laptop.
And then there was this guy who came in the church then gradually asked people around to join his multi-level/pyramiding scheme. After reaching out to almost everybody yet not being able to close a “sale”, he transferred to another church whom in his own terms was “a harvest field for my business”.
Some left me speechless. Some had me bewildered. But all the time, the Holy Spirit is faithful in providing guidance and protection when it comes to these things.
Since the church operates as a family, generosity amongst its members comes naturally. Needs are prayed for together and help given to one another are done by faith in Jesus.
However, there are those who take advantage of this generosity and love. They choose and stay in a church family (with a facade of being a true Christian) not based on what they can learn from it or contribute to it but based on what they can get out of it.
This was exactly what Judas did.
Judas was one of the Twelve disciples of Jesus. He was chosen by Jesus (Luke 6:12-16, Mark 3:13-19) even though Jesus already knew that Judas was going to betray him with a kiss and for thirty pieces of shekels (which by the way is only around 8 dollars or 400 pesos today! Upsetting indeed). He was in charge of the moneybag even though Jesus already knew that he was going to use it only for himself (John 12:6).
Judas looked like he was following Jesus – like a wolf who looked and sounded almost exactly like a sheep. He served the poor, was active in doing ministry and preached the gospel alongside Jesus! He witnessed miracles, heard of Jesus’ teachings, was even given the gift of healing and exercised authority over demons (Luke 9:1-2).
But the truth was: he loved money more than Jesus. But Jesus, with His purposeful reasons, allowed a disguised wolf to live among the sheep for three years. Even though Judas’ motives and true heart were exposed later on, his doublemindedness and betrayal caused great damage.
So what do we do when we see or observe people “churching” only to get favor and not to serve Christ by faith?
- Don’t be quick to point fingers. We too had/have chosen thirty pieces of shekels over Jesus one way or another. Shekels do not always mean money, it may also mean worldly desires or successes, lust of the flesh, relationships or idols of the heart. Yet like Judas, we too have been given a chance to repent. Instead of being bitter, vindictive or upset towards someone who embraced generosity with entitlement and contempt, we pray for them. The Lord wants all of us to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
- Forgive them. Jesus, in the midst of all suffering and betrayal, prayed: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34). Yes, they took advantage of the love they were given so let’s might as well forGIVE them. Since love gives freedom, it must as well give forgiveness. Jesus still called Judas a “friend” even after the kiss that would lead to His arrest. So in such process, we also learn from and lean on Jesus.
- Trust that the Lord is sovereign. We can call the betrayal for what it is, reconsider our personal boundaries and recognize that only God is truly trustworthy. But more than anything, we can be honest to God about such circumstances and people, and allow Him to handle it. The Lord is sovereign and He sees the end from the beginning. All things work together for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).