Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Prostitution

David Ryser was teaching at a school of ministry. He gave a short history of Christianity that went like this: "Christianity started in Palestine as a fellowship; it moved to Greece and became a philosophy; it moved to Italy and became an institution; it moved to Europe and became a culture; it came to America and became an enterprise." Ryser describes what happened next....

Some of the students were only 18 or 19 years old--barely out of diapers--and I wanted them to understand and appreciate the import of the last line, so I clarified it by adding, "An enterprise. That's a business." After a few moments Martha, the youngest student in the class, raised her hand. I could not imagine what her question might be. I thought the little vignette was self-explanatory, and that I had performed it brilliantly. Nevertheless, I acknowledged Martha's raised hand, "Yes, Martha." She asked such a simple question, "A business? But isn't it supposed to be a body?" I could not envision where this line of questioning was going, and the only response I could think of was, "Yes." She continued, "But when a body becomes a business, isn't that a prostitute?"

The room went dead silent. For several seconds no one moved or spoke. We were stunned, afraid to make a sound because the presence of God had flooded into the room, and we knew we were on holy ground. All I could think in those sacred moments was, "Wow, I wish I'd thought of that." I didn't dare express that thought aloud. God had taken over the class.

Martha's question changed my life. For six months, I thought about her question at least once every day. "When a body becomes a business, isn't that a prostitute?" There is only one answer to her question. The answer is "Yes." The American Church, tragically, is heavily populated by people who do not love God. How can we love Him? We don't even know Him; and I mean really know Him.

... I stand by my statement that most American Christians do not know God--much less love Him. The root of this condition originates in how we came to God. Most of us came to Him because of what we were told He would do for us. We were promised that He would bless us in life and take us to heaven after death. We married Him for His money, and we don't care if He lives or dies as long as we can get His stuff. We have made the Kingdom of God into a business, merchandising His anointing. This should not be. We are commanded to love God, and are called to be the Bride of Christ--that's pretty intimate stuff. We are supposed to be His lovers. How can we love someone we don't even know? And even if we do know someone, is that a guarantee that we truly love them? Are we lovers or prostitutes?

I was pondering Martha's question again one day, and considered the question, "What's the difference between a lover and a prostitute?" I realized that both do many of the same things, but a lover does what she does because she loves. A prostitute pretends to love, but only as long as you pay. Then I asked the question, "What would happen if God stopped paying me?"

For the next several months, I allowed God to search me to uncover my motives for loving and serving Him. Was I really a true lover of God? What would happen if He stopped blessing me? What if He never did another thing for me? Would I still love Him? Please understand, I believe in the promises and blessings of God. The issue here is not whether God blesses His children; the issue is
the condition of my heart. Why do I serve Him? Are His blessings in my life the gifts of a loving Father, or are they a wage that I have earned or a bribe/payment to love Him? Do I love God without any conditions? It took several months to work through these questions. Even now I wonder if my desire to love God is always matched by my attitude and behavior. I still catch myself being disappointed with God and angry that He has not met some perceived need in my life. I suspect this is something which is never fully resolved, but I want more than anything else to be a true lover of God.

So what is it going to be? Which are we, lovers or prostitutes?

4 comments:

Bob Luhn said...

In 1993, the Lord said,"Stop what you are doing and take the next 7 months to seek My face and release people to the ministry I've called them to". As I and my congregation did that, I was lead into a barern dry spiritual desert. All my gifting and anointing for ministry was taken away and I was stripped down to nothing. In time I came to the place where I could say "Jesus is enough. If He never answers another prayer, If He never restores my anointing, If He never blesses in anyway, He, by Himself, is enough"
Your "Prostitution" post expresses so accurately what I went through 16 years ago (and still go through) Thank for posting this.

Bob Luhn, Othello,WA

Evonne Nelson, LMP said...

This is an amazing comparison. Just another reason so many non-believers are shunning the church these days. I think we need to change a couple of our 'arrows'. Maybe have one of them on an 'Arrows In' mission. We need to save the lost 'within' our church as well as those on the 'outside'. I think that if we are gonna turn this thing around, it's gonna have to be an inside job. Here's the catch 22... How can you save a person who doesn't believe they need saving because they are 'saved'? Beyond that, How can you really know who the 'lovers' or the 'prostitutes' really are? Maybe you could enlighten me on this because I have been struggling with this whole concept for sometime.

Dave Browning said...

I don't think I could make an informed judgment about where someone else is coming from, but I do have inside information on myself. This question is one that gives me pause. It strips off all the veneer to the deeper motives. Right now I'm not looking at anyone but myself.

Robert J. Moeller said...

Hey, I randomly found your blog today and I'm glad that I did. Very interesting stuff. I'm a conservative blogger and seminary student in Chicago (rjmoeller.com). Keep up the good work!