Maybe we should be evangelizing the corporate offices instead of
the inner cities and the third world. What do you think?
This query, above, came at the end of a submitted question that
established why the writer may have been considering such a
statement. (Throughout this document all portions of the originally
received letter will be identified with italics). The
following provides all of the original material except for a small
portion that would have identified the writer. While a specific
conference and speaker are mentioned as part of the question, the
sentiments expressed are commonplace in many modern church circles,
so no undue inference should be given to the ones listed.
I went to the Prevailing Church Conference on Friday... There were
about 1200 or so attendees. I heard Bill Hybels three times and, for
the most of it, what he had to say was very good. He challenged the
church to become concerned for each other and the people in the
community. The people inside the church need to put their faith in
action and reach out and help people. When people are having
troubles, they should be able to rely on the church for love, support
and guidance. It is very hard to deny the importance of these truths.
I agree with this, so long as the definition of "love"
Ephesians 4:15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all
things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. (NIV)
A love not anchored in the truth, that does not speak the truth even
when it's not popular or might offend, is no love at all.
Romans 12:9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is
This means that the word "guidance" must also include
rebuking and correcting.
2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of
season; correct, rebuke and encourage - with great patience and
careful instruction. (NIV)
Titus 2:15 These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage
and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you. (NIV)
Love grounded in truth will always have actions (1 John 3:18). Might
the very reason many in today's churches aren't concerned (beyond
words) about those in and outside the church be that there's a whole
lot of "love" that is devoid of truth?
2 Corinthians 5:11a, 14 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the
Lord, we try to persuade men. ... 14 For Christ's love compels
us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all
The "scriptural" reasoning that followed in the letter
requires detailed scrutiny, primarily because it was the provided
foundation for considering who should be evangelized.
Jesus was saddened when the rich young ruler could not give up his
wealth to become a follower of Christ. He said Jesus was saddened for
two reasons. First, because of the loss of relationship and the soul
of the person. Second, that the kingdom work would not have the
benefit of such a gifted person as this young leader. That this
person may have been able to do more than even Paul, because, as a
ruler, he was probably an good leader and would have had a lot to
bring to God as a servant. God needs these kind of people.
For reference I've included the three accounts, of what is commonly
known as the story of the rich young ruler, as found in Scriptures...
Matthew 19:16-26 Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher,
what good thing must I do to get eternal life?" 17 "Why do
you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is
only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the
commandments." 18 "Which ones?" the man inquired.
Jesus replied, "'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not
steal, do not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,'
and 'love your neighbor as yourself.'" 20 "All these I have
kept," the young man said. "What do I still lack?" 21
Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your
possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in
heaven. Then come, follow me." 22 When the young man heard this,
he went away sad, because he had great wealth. 23 Then Jesus said to
his disciples, "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man
to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for
a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to
enter the kingdom of God." 25 When the disciples heard this,
they were greatly astonished and asked, "Who then can be
saved?" 26 Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is
impossible, but with God all things are possible." (NIV)
Luke 18:18-27 A certain ruler asked him, "Good teacher, what
must I do to inherit eternal life?" 19 "Why do you call me
good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good - except God alone.
20 You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery, do not murder,
do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and
mother.'" 21 "All these I have kept since I was a boy,"
he said. 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "You still
lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and
you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." 23 When
he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great
wealth. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for the
rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel
to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the
kingdom of God." 26 Those who heard this asked, "Who then
can be saved?" 27 Jesus replied, "What is impossible with
men is possible with God." (NIV)
Mark 10:17-27 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and
fell on his knees before him. "Good teacher," he asked,
"what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 18 "Why do
you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good - except
God alone. 19 You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, do not
commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not
defraud, honor your father and mother.'" 20 "Teacher,"
he declared, "all these I have kept since I was a boy." 21
Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he
said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and
you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." 22 At
this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great
wealth. 23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How
hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!" 24 The
disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again,
"Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is
easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich
man to enter the kingdom of God." 26 The disciples were even
more amazed, and said to each other, "Who then can be
saved?" 27 Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is
impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God." (NIV)
Consider Mark 10:21, when it says that Jesus looked at the man and
loved him... Jesus showed that love not by watering down the
truth or enticing him to join with the disciples in hopes that he
might someday get to the truth, rather Jesus loved him enough to
confront him with the truth - truly an offensive thing.
1 Corinthians 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to
those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the
power of God. (NIV)
The only one described as being sad in the three accounts given in
Scriptures was the rich young ruler (Matt 19:22, Luke 18:23, Mark
10:22). While we can regret that someone does not accept the truth,
we should never regret having proclaimed it.
With the remainder of the premise you raised, from Bill Hybels, being
based on Jesus being saddened, the two remaining points fall as they
are based on a fallacy. But, let me address them from a different
He said Jesus was saddened for two reasons. First, because of the
loss of relationship and the soul of the person. Second, that the
kingdom work would not have the benefit of such a gifted person as
this young leader. That this person may have been able to do more
than even Paul, because, as a ruler, he was probably an good leader
and would have had a lot to bring to God as a servant. God needs
these kind of people.
Many churches are looking for an excuse to justify the course of
action they have already chosen, namely to focus on the upscale, the
prominent, the rich... specifically those who have wealth and power.
It is called eisegesis when you twist Scriptures to make it say what
you want it to say. Exegesis is proclaiming what Scriptures truly
says (in its' totality). While God uses His church to do His work, He
is not dependant on us. We don't have to "make it happen."
We are called to be faithful in proclaiming the truth, living out the
love and faith we have been given, and God will do what He chooses.
(Consider Mark 10:27, Luke 18:27, Matthew 19:26 above; "What is
impossible with men is possible with God.")
James 2:14-18 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have
faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother
or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to
him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but
does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the
same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is
dead. 18 But someone will say, "You have faith; I have
deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my
faith by what I do. (NIV)
The things that the world holds dear are not the things God has
chosen to use. He doesn't need the finest of the world's wisdom or
education, He doesn't need the world's riches (as He alone owns
everything, Psalms 50:10), and He doesn't need the world's influence.
In fact, God's working apart from these things brings glory to Him
alone for doing it in a manner that opposes all the world holds dear.
So why are many modern churches adopting the world's methods? And if
they were to work (or could work) who would get the glory, the
worldly methods or God?
Corinthians 1:20-31 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar?
Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the
wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world
through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the
foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews
demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach
Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to
Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks,
Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness
of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is
stronger than man's strength. 26 Brothers, think of what you were
when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards;
not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God
chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose
the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 He chose the
lowly things of this world and the despised things - and the things
that are not - to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may
boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ
Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God - that is, our
righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is
written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord." (NIV)
today's church believes it needs to use money to manipulate (through
giving or withholding), and prominent worldly power-brokers to
influence, it shows how far the church has fallen from trusting in
God and His word alone.
that God could have done greater things with the rich young ruler,
than with Paul, is to dangerously say that God settled for second
best. This is not the message of Scriptures, as God (knowing full
well what He was doing) chose Paul... once again as the most unlikely
of candidates (by the world's standards), so that He alone would be
glorified. Consider Paul's speaking qualifications...
Corinthians 2:1-5 When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with
eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony
about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you
except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness
and fear, and with much trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were
not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the
Spirit's power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom,
but on God's power. (NIV)
no accident that Paul ended up doing what God desired of him. Paul is
a classic example of how God will use a person that is wholly
committed to speak the truth in love. Paul didn't focus on Caesars
court, thinking that God needed these powerful people, rather as God
gave opportunity he was willing to speak there, not trying to elevate
himself as an equal but rather as a servant in chains. He spent far
more time ministering to the unlikely, befriending the outcasts (like
the runaway slave Onesimus, Philemon 10-16), and spending time in the
common marketplace with everyday folk (Acts 17:17). While he was
capable of interacting with the intellectual elite, the majority of
them rejected Paul's message as foolishness (Acts 17:18, 32-34).
needs these kind of people.
no one. God graciously chooses whom He wills. The message is to be
universally given (to the rich and poor, to the insignificant and to
the influential), but the Bible makes clear that God has chosen to
use far more of the weaker and foolish by the world's standards.
Children, too, fit into this category. Children have no power, no
riches, and no influence. The most they can give in return is
gratitude. Church budgets of today spend a vast majority of their
resources on those who can "become productive members of the
congregation," namely those who are perceived as being able to
give something back to the church. This is not the scriptural
pattern... the church is to be giving expecting nothing in return.
Statistics show that a majority of believers made their decision to
follow Jesus Christ while they were children... shouldn't this be
sufficient to remind us of Jesus words...
19:14 Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do
not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as
9:35-37 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, "If
anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant
of all." 36 He took a little child and had him stand among them.
Taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 "Whoever welcomes
one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever
welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me." (NIV)
not even enough to forget the children, or relegate them to our
left-over efforts and budgets, the focus has even been shifting in
regards to adults. Why focus on the widows (and those made widows
through divorce), or those down and out, or even the working poor,
the new paradigm calls for power and money.
we should be evangelizing the corporate offices instead of the inner
cities and the third world. What do you think?
artificial arguments to focus on the rich take away from the things
God has emphasized; namely to reach the "least" of these...
25:31-46 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the
angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All
the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the
people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the
goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his
left. 34 "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come,
you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom
prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry
and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me
something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I
needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after
me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' 37 "Then the
righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed
you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see
you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?
39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' 40
"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did
for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' 41
"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who
are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his
angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was
thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you
did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I
was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' 44 "They
also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a
stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help
you?' 45 "He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did
not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' 46
"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous
to eternal life." (NIV)
prayer that today's church wakes up to what is happening. If the
church truly wants to make an impact on the world around it, it needs
to get back to preaching the word, and then truly living
it out. Imagine what the world would think if the church left
its' palatial buildings and invested itself in the lives of children,
the poor, the prisoners - truly everyone the world considers to be
insignificant. What a witness this would be!
2:5-6 But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete
in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live
in him must walk as Jesus did. (NIV)