If you are a sports fan, you’ve heard the old cliché a thousand times – “There’s no I in TEAM.” While the cliché may be ancient, it’s still packed with truth for every team sport I know. An individual player does not a team make and when one player places himself/herself above the team – well, unity is destroyed, effectiveness is challenged, wins are hard to come by and the losses seem to mount with ease. It’s not the talent of the “one and dones” that usually wins the “Big Dance”, it’s the unity of the team that most often captures the Crystal Ball.
And so it is in God’s kingdom. There’s no “I” in “TEAM” or I should say no “MY” in the “Kingdom of God”. Certainly this biblical truth is the foundation stone for Jesus’ teaching when He said “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt. 16:19-21) Simply stated the Kingdom of God is not about me!
Tragically, these words from Jesus are not impacting the evangelical world these days. We live as if somehow, right there in the middle of “Kingdom of God” is a big capital “M” and a big capital “Y”. How else can we explain it? How else can we explain the fact that the average evangelical church member only gives 2.3% of their income to the church (2013 Empty Tomb Study)? It must be the “MY” – my family, my dream home, my car, my lifestyle, my retirement, my investments, my lake house, my ski trips, my-my-my. When across the globe a child dies every five seconds from hunger-related causes and over one billion people do not have access to clean drinking water how can evangelical Christians live such self-absorbed lives? It must be the “MY”.
And how else can we explain that the average evangelical church only gives to missions a paltry 2.1% of the church’s annual offerings (2011 Empty Tomb Study)? Again it must be the “MY” or collectively the “OUR” philosophy of life – our new Worship Center, our Family Life Center, our television ministry, our indebtedness, our second campus, our senior adults, our Student Ministry, our new bus, our church members, our-our-our. When globally 6 billion people do not have adequate access to the Gospel, 42% of the world’s population remains unreached and 1.7 billion people live in places and among peoples who may never even hear the name “Jesus” how can churches be so “OUR church” focused? Are we even listening to the words of Jesus?
And in full disclosure, as a denominational employee in the Baptist community, I must confess we are definitely guilty of the sin of “OUR” – our state conventions, our seminaries, our Baptist colleges, our associations, our churches, our programs and conferences, our camps and conference centers, our religious institutions, our-our-our. It’s as if the church has completely forgotten the words of Jesus, “Do not lay up for yourselves (or your church or your denominational entity) treasures on earth,….”
I must repent. You must repent. The evangelical world must repent of the sin of “MY/Our” and we must all ask ourselves some very difficult questions! Does my Christian family, really value living in the “right home” in a gated community more than a human soul? As an evangelical congregation, do we really value a larger worship facility or a second campus more than we do an entire people group who has yet to hear the message of the Gospel? As an evangelical denomination, do we actually value a multiplicity of options in Christian higher education or a redundancy in denominational structures and resources or “our” theological belief system verses “their” theological belief system more than we do 6 billion people with inadequate access to the Gospel? In an age in which our brothers and sisters in Somalia, North Korea, Iran, Nigeria, the Sudan and a host of other countries are literally dying for their faith, the lack of sacrifice by the evangelical church in America must be appalling to our Lord.
Yes, we must repent. We must repent of the philosophy of “MY/OUR”. We must repent and listen afresh and anew to the voice of our King, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven,….” We must, because billions of souls are at stake!