Greed and profit
I have just spent several daysin a fairly remote location in Asia interviewing many leaders of a current church planting movement.
One set of questions I asked was
A) the most common obstacle to following Jesus
B) the most common reason people do follow
C) the most common reason people quit following (backslide)
Given the area, I was unsurprised to hear things like multigenerational traditional religion, social pressure, and fears as common obstacles.
Nor was I particularly surprised to hear that healings and deliverance from demonic oppression were key in their coming to faith. Whatever the “why” of it, it’s clear that such things are more common in that part of the world than in the West.
But what did surprise me was the prevalence of “unfulfilled prayer” as a reason for quitting. The line basically went: “they came seeking something–like healing–and when they didn’t get it immediately, they fell away.”
This was put more starkly by one of the leaders: “they have greed in their heart. They are following the profit for themselves.” The basic antidote to this was a clearer presentation of the Gospel, better discipleship, etc.
Sometimes, one leader said, we are tempted to offer people something that they want–and this becomes almost an enticement. “Come to Jesus and get x.” This can be done intentionally but it seems to me we do it far more often “by accident” out of passion for the needs of people. We know Jesus can heal, so “come and get…” We do this, blatantly or less so, in the west too.
Yes, we have to preach Jesus can and does heal and release and redeem and so on. But the reality, this reminds me, is that we do not bend the knee to Jesus to GET something. We bend the knee because He is Lord.