Evangelized by the World

Alan Hirsch points out that sometimes instead of evangelizing the world, we are evangelized by the world. It’s discipleship in reverse. Rather than impacting our culture, the culture has an impact on us. Madison Avenue and the media work overtime to convince us to buy more stuff and accumulate more things. The result is that we don’t influence the world—it’s the other way around—the world sucks us into its vortex and we develop a consumer mentality. The green god lures us into its orbit and we become focused on material things rather than spiritual things.

Jesus taught more about money and wealth than any other topic. He warned us that money (Mammon) is a god that has a power unto itself, that money seduces us into idolatry. Think of Jesus’ parables! He tells us in Luke 12 not to be like the rich fool who built more and more barns for himself. The fool was confronted by God in the middle of the night, and his life was demanded from him. Jesus said, “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:21). In Luke 16 he tells the story of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man lived in luxury every day while the poor man Lazarus ate crumbs from the rich man’s table. But in the next life, everything was reversed—it was the rich man who was in torment and the poor man Lazarus who was in paradise. Jesus says there will be a reversal of fortunes, and cautions us not to fall prey to the rich man’s mindset. In Luke 18, Jesus meets a rich young ruler who has all the perks of life but none of the right priorities. The ruler wants to know the secret to eternal life. Jesus tells the man to go and sell all he has so he can have treasure in heaven. But the rich young ruler walks away, because he is very wealthy. His attachment to money keeps him from the kingdom of God. Jesus punctuates the story by saying, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” (Luke 18:24).

As we approach Missions Sunday on October 9, remember the sinister power of Money to keep us from completing our mission! A church without walls aggressively weeks to take the gospel to locations near and far. But the love of money issues a siren call to follow the world instead of the kingdom. Advertisers convince us that spending on ourselves is the natural thing to do. Satan uses consumerism to distract us from the priority to be given to missions. God has given us vast money resources for accomplishing His mission—but those resources are often siphoned off into pursuits that are trivial compared with the urgency of preaching the gospel.

Our goal for Bridge Beyond, our missions campaign, is $90,000. I hope you’ll be prepared on October 9 to sacrifice so that the message of Christ can be shared. I hope that instead of letting the culture evangelize you, you will evangelize the culture. John Wesley said that the last thing to convert is a person’s wallet. Don’t let the power of Mammon keep you from partnering with our missionaries in getting the gospel out to the whole world! Give generously! Live counterculturally! Follow Christ radically! After all, you can’t take it with you! But you can send it ahead by giving what you have now for kingdom purposes—as you do, Jesus says, you store up treasures in heaven!