The Missiological Problem with Money

But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.” – Matthew 8:20

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One problem that many American short-term mission volunteers face when traveling and serving overseas concerns money. Often those who live in third-world countries observe our clothes and possessions and assume that we are wealthy. Of course, by comparison, we are! It is possible for the price of one round-trip airfare from the U.S. to exceed a typical year’s wages in some of the countries we visit. The sad truth is that many who live in these places often equate our prosperity with Christianity … hence, the issue.

Remember this, Jesus was not rich according to earthly standards. In fact, he had “no place to lay his head.” The peoples of this world have many needs. It would be criminal to not meet those needs when the situation is critical and we have the ability to do so; however, we must not let our riches hide God’s provision for their greatest need, which is eternal life. When we “lead” our efforts with money, this is exactly the danger we face.

Yes, it would be criminal to ignore a dire need, but it would be just as criminal for a person to be well-fed and in good health yet lost forever in a Christless eternity. The greatest need is the Gospel.

Poverty, frost, famine, rain, disease, are the beadles and guardsmen that hold us to common sense. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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