I want to judge him.
I read some comments from non-believers who are appalled at his fund-raising campaign and I agree with them. I have a strong desire to join their choir of criticism and say, “Pastor, you are a charlatan!”
If you don’t know who I’m talking about, you will soon because this story is flying through the media. I speak of Creflo Augustus Dollar, Jr. He is an American televangelist, pastor, and the founder of the non-denominational World Changers Church International based in Fulton County, Georgia.
Last year, Dollar’s private jet ran off the runway while landing in a UK airport. Fortunately, nobody was seriously hurt. But to replace the old jet, Dollar launched a fundraising campaign to get his followers to pay approximately $60,000,000 for a new Gulfstream G650 jet. He suggested they commit to giving “$300 or more.” The jet he wants is the “fastest plane ever built in civilian aviation.” But after receiving immediate and intense backlash, Dollar ended his fundraising campaign.
Unfortunately, the church is seriously hurt. Again.
According to a recent Atlanta Blackstar report, Dollar has an estimated net worth of $27 million—200 times more than the $29,640 average annual income in College Park, Ga., where he ministry is located. And as all this information comes out to the public, people are flocking to social media to criticise and accuse.
I can admit that I don’t agree with his methods. I’m not a follower of his teachings or reader of his books. Nevertheless, it would be unfair of me to assume that all that he has done is bad. To write him off as evil or fraudulent. Because it’s very, very possible that he was won more people to Christ than me. I have no doubts that his ministry has created more jobs than I have with mine. His messages have inspired and encouraged hundreds of thousands, possibly millions across the globe. And while researching I discovered that his ministry has donated way more than 60 million dollars to help the poor at home and abroad.
But I still want to judge him (and I have Bible verses to support those judgments.) Yet, to judge him is to bring judgement on myself.
I want to ask Creflo Dollar to stop asking for so much money. To move out of his 2.5 million dollar mansion and turn it into a shelter for the homeless. I wish he would at least sell one of his two Rolls Royce and give the money to the widows and the orphans in his own congregation. And I want him to stop promoting the message of prosperity which makes us look so cheap.
But maybe it is I who should stop. Instead of demanding that he gives more to the poor, I should give more of myself. I don’t have a mansion, but I do have food on my table everyday. So even thou I can’t feed hundreds, I could probably feed a few. When I get invited to preach and travel and an honorarium comes my way, maybe I should ask Jesus if I can give it back to the needy in whichever city I am in, instead of spending half of it in the layover airport on the way back.
The problem is not wealth. The problem is the love of money. I love money. So I have a problem with wealth.
“We are settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity is actually about abandoning ourselves.” David Platt in Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream
It’s might sound ridiculous that Creflo “needs” a 65 million dollar airplane to preach the gospel. But it might also seem ridiculous to a father of 12 in Niger that I would “need” an iPad to preach my sermons, or an iMac to write my blog, or shoes to go for a walk.
There is nothing wrong with growing your finances. It’s great when Christians are rich (that should mean more money to fund the mission.) Nevertheless, there is a line to how much money we as leaders should spend on ourselves. I don’t know where the line is, but it might be somewhere between people going to bed hungry and pastors going to bed inside their own aeroplanes.
I honestly don’t know.
My wife and I believe in giving and tithing and prospering and having nice things. God has been good to us and we are extremely grateful. I just hope that one day soon we learn to be more than that. #Disciples
Yes, it is difficult to “defend” our faith when stories like these go viral. But maybe we need to not focus on Creflo Dollar’s dealings and instead focus on Jesus’ invitation:
“You lack one thing. Go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
These words haunt my selfish soul. They were spoken by Jesus to a rich young ruler. And Jesus loved that rich young ruler. America is a rich young nation. And Jesus loves this rich young nation.
“Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 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.” The disciples were even more astonished and said to Him, “Then who can be saved?” Looking at them, Jesus said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”
What is this “impossible thing for us” that becomes “possible with God?”
It’s not, “I can have whatever I want because for God nothing is impossible” Quite the contrary actually. The context (and the heart of Jesus) for us to be able to say, “I can give away everything! Yes, it is impossible for me, but not impossible for God.”
This impossibility is that a rich man, a rich society, a rich country would give all to the poor, and follow Jesus.
There are countless Bible verses to prove that God wants to bless us, prosper us, empower us and make us a success. But we choose in Christ to give it away. We choose the true gospel. And in that gospel we don’t accuse our rich brothers. In that gospel we serve our needy neighbours. In that gospel we surrender our possessions. Because there is no such thing as a “prosperity gospel”. There is only ONE gospel, and that’s the good news of Jesus Christ for all… the poor, the rich, the broken, the cheater, the Mega Church pastor, for you and me.
I’ll finish with the words of prophet/comedian/next-host-of-the-Late-Show-on-CBS, Stephen Colbert:
“If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.”
I admit that most of the time I don’t want to do it. But I want to change; so I start with forgiveness. I forgive every church leader who has asked for millions of dollars to expand their personal kingdoms. And I forgive myself for pretending like I wouldn’t do the same.
Read an incredible testimony of loving the poorest of the poor in: “We stink of Pride”
David Ruis wrote this incredible short book, The Justice God Is Seeking (The Worship Series) – Give it a chance, you’re christianity will be grateful.
As always, feel free to Comment and Share.