Luke 12:16-21, And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: 17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? 18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. 20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? 21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
Our six-week trip to Southeast Asia [Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Myanmar], which is quickly coming to an end has been wonderful. We have seen people trust Christ, had the opportunity to preach in nine different churches (one more tomorrow evening), teach in two different Bible institutes, and preach four times in a two-day Youth Rally. We have also had some wonderful fellowship with Khmer, Cham, Lao, Khmu, Hmong, Bru, Thai, Burmese, Karen, Chin, and Filipino believers. And, of course, a few Americans along the way. Its been wonderful!
Among the many things that have inspired me during this trip has been the simplicity and the richness of the faith of the vast majority of these folks. Of course, my wife and I have served in this part of the world, so it isn’t really anything new, but it has been a good reminder after spending some time back in the States.
The vast majority of the folks have very little, when it comes to the world’s goods, but they are rich in faith. Our dear friend Brother Dwight Tomlinson referred to a group of Burmese believers, that he and I had just preached for in Myanmar, as “James 2:5 Believers.”
James 2:5, Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?
I definitely think we American Christians could learn something from these folks. As one author noted:
Christians have made the gospel about so many things—things other than Christ. But Jesus Christ is the gravitational pull that brings everything together and gives it meaning. Without Him, all things lose their value. … It is all too possible to emphasize a spiritual truth, value, virtue, or gift, yet miss Christ, who is Himself the embodiment and incarnation of all of these things. Seek Christ, embrace Christ, know Christ, and you will have touched Him who is Life.
It seems like many of these folks seek to know Christ, embrace Christ, and love Christ. And, for the most part, their faith in Christ and their devotion to Christ is simple. Yes! I think we could learn a lesson or two from them. It is good for us to keep in mind that the gospel is not simply a way to get people to heaven, it is a way to get people to God. If we don’t understand this truth our Christian experience will be shallow at best! As one pastor and author noted:
Today-as in every generation-it is stunning to watch the shift away from God as the all-satisfying gift of God’s love. It is stunning how seldom God himself is proclaimed as the greatest gift of the gospel. But the Bible teaches that the best and final gift of God’s love is the enjoyment of God’s beauty. … The critical question for our generation-and for every generation-is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ were not there? And the question for Christian leaders is: Do we preach and teach and lead in such a way that people are prepared to hear that question without responding with a resounding, NO!
Powerful words right there!
I think most of us can attest to the fact that we easily get distracted and find ourselves drifting. Yes, our hearts are prone to wander. As the song writer reminds us, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.” I think most of us, if we were honest, would have to admit that we often leave our first love [Revelation 2:4], and find ourselves clinging on to someone or something else.
“Father, I want to know Thee, but my coward heart fears to give up its toys.” -A.W. Tozer