At the recent Together for the Gospel conference, David Platt, author of Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream, delivers a message on “The Fuel of Death-Defying Missions.”
In this message, Platt excellently shows us how the sovereignty of God over all things should give us both the motivation and the security to preach the gospel to unreached and dangerous people groups. In this message, though, he highlights something that has been on my mind for some time: the purpose of the wealth of the north American Christian.
Christians give an average of 2.5% of their income to the church. The north American churches give an average of two percent of that money to global missions. For every $100 a north American Christian makes, five cents goes to global missions.
We are the richest people to walk on planet Earth. Why?
1 May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us, Selah
2 that your way may be known on earth,
your saving power among all nations.
3 Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!
4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth. Selah
5 Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!
6 The earth has yielded its increase;
God, our God, shall bless us.
7 God shall bless us;
let all the ends of the earth fear him!
God has blessed us so that all the ends of the Earth might fear Him. God has willed for us to be wealthy for the sake of His worship. He has given us wealth in the world for His worship in the world.
God hasn’t given Americans freedom and wealth so that we can boast about how great America is or what a great country we think America is when compared to all the others. God has ALLOWED us to have these things so that we will be more able to spread the gospel without being hindered. Yet, when we are faced with pressure from those who disagree with us, we buckle in passivity under the guise of political correctness. God allows us to have wealth in America, not so that we can glory in Americanism, but so that we can give sacrificially for the sake of the gospel.
Recently I saw a map of the religions that make up America. This map showed that, overall, the Christian religion dominates with 75% of the available religions. Yet, we cower in the corner when someone calls us intolerant (tolerant is something the gospel never calls us to be) and we only give 2.5% of our CHRISTIAN income to the Church, and only 2% of that goes to global missions. This makes me ask one question: What has happened to the heart of the gospel in American Christianity?
We might call ourselves a Christian nation, but we seem to have strayed so far from the heart that drove the early church to sell “their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need” (Acts 2:45) while we can’t even sacrifice enough of our comfort to give AT THE MINIMUM 10% of our income to advance the kingdom of God. The apostles spoke boldly about their risen Savior and sovereign Lord. We buckle under pressure to not offend people. So, if we are a Christian nation, what kind of a Christian nation have we really become?
I realize that God is absolutely doing some amazing things at some amazing churches in spite of all of this, and He very well may be allowing this to happen simply so that He gets the glory and we don’t get any of the credit. But I can’t help but feel that part of the reason for this passivity and blatant selfishness is the very comfort God has allowed us to have in America. God has given us GOOD gifts in America, and we have allowed sin to kill our influence through those very good gifts.
Conservatives tend to blame all the liberals for all the problems in America. We tend to blame devastation through natural disaster on the licentiousness of a certain city, or we’ll blame political problems on government officials with socialist tendencies. And there MIGHT be some truth to that. But, when I look at Scripture, I’m much more inclined to believe that the problem is us. Yep, the conservative Christians who confess the name of Christ as Lord and Savior and are so content to sit idly by and watch the world go to Hell, literally.
What happened when the Christians in the early church were content to sit around, huddled in one place? Got let a man named Saul rain down persecution on the church to get them moving so they’d fulfill the Great Commission. So, what if all of the things we don’t like about the way America is functioning and the direction it’s heading has less to do with the lost in the world, and more to do with us? What if God is allowing all of this to happen for the sole purpose of making us discontent, so we’d start living out the gospel and advancing the kingdom of God without fear once again?
Below is the video of David Platt’s message at the T4G conference: