Luxury Christians

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I wrote this piece after witnessing a series of events. These events motivated me to write this paper and share my heart with regards to the topic.

Submitted: October 04, 2016

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Submitted: October 04, 2016

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As Christians, we are held accountable for our actions. On the day of judgment, we will all stand before God. The life we lived on Earth will be weighed up and judgment will be passed on whether we lived a life that was pleasing to God, or whether we lived a life that did not reflect the life of Christ. I believe that those who are called to lead the Christian community are held accountable by the Christian community, we are allowed to scrutinize the life of a Christian leader, elder, or priest if we believe that the life they are living does not reflect the teachings of the bible. Each year, we see Christian leaders engaged in scandalous and sinful activities. Perhaps they are exposed because they are constantly attacked by the non-Christian community. Perhaps they are exposed because we see them as role models, and the moment that they are involved in something we deem to be “unchristian”, we are quick to pass judgment and shine a spotlight on their lives. Either way, an individual who sees themselves as a leader in the Christian community must take responsibility for their actions and live a life that is pleasing to God. A basic law for a leader in any institution is that he or she must act dutifully, respectfully and kindly. He or she must live according to the law of their institution and set an example to the members of the institution which they lead. If a manager at an IT company is unable to work with computers or pass on knowledge that is necessary to work with computers, none of the company’s staff members will be motivated to work with computers either. The same applies to a Christian leader, if he or she is unable to reflect the life of Christ, how is it possible for Christian community to do the same?

This paper serves the purpose of highlighting key areas in which many Christian leaders fail to live up to the standards that the bible prescribes, which isn’t necessarily a problem because only Christ was capable of that. The problem lies in transparency; is a Christian leader transparent enough to admit their shortcomings and still lead a church with grace and humility? Too many leaders in the Christian community, in my opinion, fail in this regard. They fail to recognize their shortcomings and have reached a point where their lives have come under extreme scrutiny from the media or the community itself. In the next section, we highlight the important characteristics and responsibilities of a Christian leader.

A Christian leader

When I say Christian leader, I am referring to everyone who believes they have been called to serve as a leader in the Christian community. This term refers to pastors, priests, bishops and any person who holds a level of authority within their Christian community, ministry or institution.

The ultimate role model of a Christian leader is Jesus. As Christians, we are called to follow in His footsteps and reflect the word He has spoken. It is true that we can never truly be like Christ, no matter how hard we try, we are not immune from sin. Sin will always prevent us from reaching the bar that Christ has set. The point is to try. To try with humility and to accept that we must repent for our sins, pick ourselves up, and try again. The duties of a Christian leader

that I will mention might not be all of them, there are many duties and responsibilities. I am only going to highlight what I think is important for this academic paper.

As leaders, we need to get rid of the habit of diluting scripture. Christians often dilute the Gospel to the point where it becomes irrelevant. An example of this is when preachers speak on the topic of spiritual law, stating that Christ died for all the “bad stuff” and that we will make “mistakes” that are not pleasing to God. This is a common example of washed out scripture. Terms such as “bad stuff” and “mistakes” are attempts by preachers to illustrate the law of God in an “easier to read” fashion. The point is to be deliberate. List the “bad stuff”, list the “mistakes”. Do not substitute sin for words or phrases that are diluted. This is miseducation. The more you dilute a beverage with water, the more it tastes like water and less like the beverage was intended to taste. Therefore, one of the duties of a Christian leader is to be deliberate in the teaching of the Gospel. Do not become a washed out shepherd who teaches a diluted Gospel.

A second duty of a Christian leader is to acknowledge his or her role as a shepherd. By doing so, a leader understands that he or she must know the voice of the Lord.
“His sheep follow him because they know his voice.”

A leader must be able to test himself against the standards set by Christ in the New Testament. If a shepherd can accept these standards and live accordingly, the flock will follow. False sheep follow strangers and are slaughtered. Jesus was not only a model leader, but also a model servant. There is a saying that goes ‘if serving is below you, leadership is beyond you.” A leader must demonstrate his or her willingness to serve; to serve their community and especially those in need. Failure to serve will communicate to your community that being a servant is only for those who are placed in inferior positions within an institution. A leader gets on his hands and knees and does the hard work first, teaching the community the importance of serving. Through serving, we show the potential to be great leaders. By continuing to serve from a position of authority we show character and wisdom.

Being humble. It seems simple, yet it is not as easy as it seems. Many academics and philosophers will argue that the word humble has many negative connotations. In layman’s terms, it means to sit at the back and not say much. Yet it takes character and strength to be humble. It takes even more courage to remain humble when your living conditions favour you. Wealth, education, a job. These are favourable conditions and it requires a certain level of modesty to cope with it. A good starting place on how to remain humble is the Bible.
I purposefully placed this section in the beginning of the paper. My intention is to highlight these characteristics and responsibilities before the topic that will be discussed in the next section.

I used the term “luxury Christians” as a way of describing those who appear to follow in the footsteps of Christ, but reflect a life of luxury and greed. Many leaders in the Christian religion are guilty of this. There are only two I wish to highlight and expose. I have no shame or fear in exposing them because we live in a society that follow these men blindly, without acknowledging that their lives are not as transparent as it seems. Although there are many, I

will only go on to mention one in particular; Pastor Colin Davids, founder of New Direction Church in Cape Town.

Colin Davids & The Properity Gospel

The prosperity gospel, sometimes called the gospel of wealth and success, is a religious belief that financial blessing is always the will of God and that material wealth is the direct result of faith, donations and positivity. Paul identified those who teach this gospel as false profits and that we are urged to avoid such teachings. In the book of Timothy, Paul warns Timothy that “these men” are corrupt in their ways and that their desire for financial gain will bring them into ruin and destruction. Colin Davids not only preaches the prosperity gospel; he lives the prosperity gospel. His personal life speaks for itself. He is the director of a company called the Platinum Forex Group, a company that has been accused of running a Ponzi scheme and making millions from it. In July of 2015, assets worth R100 Million was frozen. These assets included homes in Plattekloof and Hermanus, three BMW’s, two Jaquars, a Range Rover, A Volvo and a number of bank accounts. It was reported that he made a R329 million through investments since 2009. There are many articles and new stories that provide more detail into the legal matters he is currently facing. Therefore, I won’t go mention any of that. Having read the first section of this paper, one can truly see that Colin Davids is not a shepherd. He is a wolf, hiding among the sheep.

This is an example of what it means to follow the world, not Christ. Christ has given us clear instructions as to how we should live if we want to reflect Him in our lives.

“If you want to be perfect, sell your possessions and give them to the poor...then come follow me.” (Matthew 19:21)

Christ also makes it clear that we must only serve God.
“No one can serve to masters. You cannot serve both God and money.”

Looking at the life of a Christian leader, it is repulsive to see how one man is able to live a life of luxury while preaching to a church that probably does not earn close to what he does. There is a clear divide between the rich pastor and the middle and lower class congregation. Let me make one thing clear, Financial gain and prosperity is not a sin. God delighted in many biblical figures who prospered financially. They used their finances to give generously. They lived transparently, acknowledging that they have been blessed. We must not judge those who are financially prosperous. This changes when we put our trust in a leader who is financially prosperous and lives a life of luxury. It is a sin to hoard earthly treasures.

“For where you treasure is; there shall your heart also be”. (Matthew 6:19-21).

If your treasure lies in earthly possessions, your heart lies in earthly possessions. Christians who are guilty of this are in clear disobedience to the Lord’s teaching. They choose to live lavish

lives, driving luxury cars and buying expensive homes. On Sunday’s, they walk into church, preach about giving, and return to their patterns of greed on Monday morning. It is sad to see that so many churches have become money making schemes and many leaders within the church have fallen into this trap.

The purpose of this paper is not to condemn, nor is it to bring shame to those who are victims of living a luxurious lifestyle, while attempting to carry their cross and follow Christ. This paper is meant to shed light on an issue that is not spoken about enough, in our homes and more importantly, in our churches. 


© Copyright 2017 Morgan Rhoda. All rights reserved.

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