He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" - Romans 8:32

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009 

Sovereign Means Sovereign

I am having a hard time with yet another story from my own organization that paints a picture of God I am totally uncomfortable with. During the economical crisis, giving has been down for the annual offering that supports Southern Baptist missionaries who work under the International Mission Board like me.

This is the most recent of several stories like it that I am sure are only intending to stir folks hearts to give. But to me, it reads as a bit of propaganda that props a weak god up for us who is dependent solely on not only man's efforts, but very specifically dependent upon Southern Baptists.

Let me be clear in stating that I completely agree that God uses means to accomplish His purposes, but you can quickly go from "God uses means" to "God desperately needs us or His hands not move." I also think the IMB in the interest of full disclosure should make it public that they have millions upon millions (hundreds of millions I believe - I can't remember the exact number) in reserves & property investments, you name it. It is a wealthy organization. Perhaps in times like these if they really believe what they are writing, that people are going to Hell because of lack of money, maybe it's time to open the storehouses to get the people to the field to get the Gospel out.

Southern Baptists of the International Mission Board are only a few of many thousands of missionaries from our own country. God uses means, but that means He uses Chinese & Korean Christians, indigneous Christians in each of these lands, many other people besides just us. Let's be careful to not equate ourselves with God's mighty right arm.

This weak God we are painting a picture of is simply waiting to move, but He can't, because He needs some more of your dollars. Don't get me wrong, God will use your dollars to advance the Kingdom. But let us honor Him as God. He doesn't only own the cattle on a thousand hills, He decrees the exact number of blades of grass each cattle feasts on. This economic hardship has not taken Him by surprise. He ordained it. And instead of lamenting what a weak God could only do if we sent more money in, perhaps the missionaries on hold should be asking who perishing around them could they be faithful to share with, because obviously that is part of His intention.

Also, for missionaries on hold, instead of questioning God's plan, if it is so important you get where you are going, try other means if this door is temporarily or eventually permanately closed. If He has told you to go, go. The world is not dependent on the IMB for the Gospel & you are not dependent on the IMB to get there.

And as an organization, instead of assuming we are the golden ones ordained from the foundations of the world to rescue all peoples from Hell, maybe we should take this shortfall as a chance to check our own hearts & see if we're being faithful to God. Are we preaching His Word? Are we implementing strategy & methodology that is biblically faithful? How about you missionaries, are you tithing or holding on to it since you're a missionary, & expecting God to bless you with unlimited field resources? Are we starting churches that are in accordance with Scripture? Are we confusing gender roles in leadership? Leaders, are you more concerned with the numbers, activity, & the appearance of faithfulness than with God's revealed will throughout the Word? Are we using the money we have wisely?

Take the assumtion of the table that we're allowed to do whatever we want & God will bless it, & then maybe we'll begin to see that God is not simply allowing the financial shorfall at the IMB, but in His sovereignty & jeolousy to be glorified, He is justly causing it. And in the meantime while we're lamenting the short-fall of funds, His Kingdom is coming & His will is being done, by faithful men & women of God all over the world, the majority of whom are not Southern Baptists.

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