“Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient. There’s a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning.” – Bill Gates
My intent is not to single out Bill Gates as some sort of poster-child for greedy, God-hating rebels because—well, truth be told—if our hearts had their secret desires most of us would follow in his footsteps. What is truly evil is not what Bill Gates has to say about Sunday worship, but that he expresses precisely and perhaps more honestly what even the vast majority of “Sunday Christians” live out practically in their own lives. Bill Gates is just more pragmatic about his rebellion against the Living God than those of us who aren’t rich enough to abandon him altogether. Bill Gates makes absolutely no attempt to pacify the God whose wrath builds against him. He sees no need to go and beg of God for anything. For the billionaire, time is money, and it is not pragmatic to waste either worshipping God.
But for the rest of us that can barely make it from one paycheck to the next—well, we can’t play the odds like that and leave God completely behind us. We’re not entirely certain that we won’t need Him, and so we’re not really ready to sever all ties with Him. So we pay our homage to Him and attend church every once in a while. Maybe we even give a little bit of money to the church if we can comfortably afford it. We do this because, as Francis Chan points out, if there really is a hell, we don’t really want to go there, so it’s probably good to go and spend a few hours in church on Sunday morning every once in a while, right? Just in case. We’re not motivated by our love for God, but by our love for ourselves. It’s not because we really long with all of our being to spend eternity in one never-ending worship service of the God of all creation. We just don’t like the idea of eternal torment, so we do just enough to try and satisfy God without ever really loving Him.
Time and money are gifts from God; they do not belong to us, but are freely given from the God who created all things. How we choose to spend these resources, however—the way in which we steward what God has given to us, is in itself an act of worship. When we give the time and money that God has given us, back to Him for His glory, motivated by our love of Christ, we are worshiping. Worship requires something of us. Actually, worship requires everything of us (see Romans 12:1-2). But truth be told, most of us who profess Christ here in America would leave God for what Bill Gates has in a second. We are not really committed Christians at all. We’re just straddling the fence. We have one foot resting in the world, the other foot dangling with one toe searching for the kingdom of heaven.
Robert Murray M’Cheyne said:
“I am concerned for the poor but more for you. I know not what Christ will say to you in the great day. . . . I fear there are many hearing me who may know well that they are not Christians, because they do not love to give. To give largely and liberally, not grudging at all, requires a new heart; an old heart would rather part with its life-blood than its money. Oh my friends! Enjoy your money; make the most of it; give none away; enjoy it quickly for I can tell you, you will be beggars throughout eternity.”
Numerous times, our Savior warned those who would follow after Him the dangers of loving money and the temporal pleasures it offers, rather than loving God.
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Matthew 6:14)
“How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” (Luke 18:24b-25)
And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:16-21)
For most of us the only difference in our own dispositions and attitudes toward God and toward money and that which was so plainly spoken by billionaire Bill Gates is simply that we have less money to love. But I believe it is also true that most of our hearts would lead us to follow in Bill Gates’ footsteps to a billion dollar bank account and a multi-million dollar mansion than they ever would to the cross of Christ, to join him in his sufferings, to seek his humiliation, and to wash the feet of the common man, lowly and subservient to both God and man. This is not the life that any of us would ever choose, left to our own. It is only by the grace of God that any would follow Him at all.
(I highly recommend the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan. Chapters 4 and 5 are entitled Lukewarm Christianity and Serving God Leftovers, and discuss in much more detail much of what I’m discussing here.)