Now is the time to build the Christian church, not our own empires and not even the empires of this world. Let me explain why I think that way.
I’ve met a number of Christians in recent years who are more committed to building up finances and presence in this present world than in building the church of the living God. I may be wrong in my observations, but I do think this is a mistaken view and application of our God-given life purpose. The Scriptures are clear about what God has saved us from and what He’s called us to. Let’s see if this is so.
Ephesians 2:1-10 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Not of works, lest any man should boast.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Notice that God “hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” If we go back to the first chapter of Ephesians we find this:
Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
God has not given us (Christians) this world. He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the celestials (the heavens). We’re not exhorted to build empires on earth but to build the church of the living God.
II Corinthians 5:17-21 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
We have been given the ministry of reconciling others to God through Christ, and to get the job done God’s given us the Word of reconciliation. That’s our job, our “vocation” if you will for life on planet earth prior to Christ’s return.
From the above verses it should be clear that we’re not blessed with every physical blessing on earth, that we’re not exhorted to build empires, and that we are commanded to build the church of God.
I Corinthians 3:10-14 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
Those who do build upon the foundation of Christ that Paul laid will receive rewards according to their labor. This is quite plainly payment for services rendered. There are no rewards offered for building our own empires here on earth, increasing our wealth and status, etc.
I’m not saying we are told not to build wealth or businesses that provide opportunities to others, or anything like that. What I’m saying is that is all secondary at most to our primary calling and vocation. We are to be busy doing our Father’s business just as Christ was during his ministry. We are to be actively engaged in building God’s church. The only reason life is allowed to continue on earth the way it is now, well after Christ made the sacrifice necessary to save the world, is to allow time for Christ to build his church. He does that through us, the body of Christ.
I Corinthians 12:12-31 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.
For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.
And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.
If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?
But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.
If they were all one part, where would the body be?
As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”
On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,
and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty,
while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it,
so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.
If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues.
Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?
Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?
Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way.
Notice that God didn’t give us real estate investors, stock market geniuses, and business planners. Can you see the emphasis in the above verses? He gave us apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. In Romans 8 God lists some of the ways to serve; notice that those ways to serve all have to do with ministry, not secular endeavors.
The “prosperity gospel” has been around for hundreds of years and will continue until Christ’s return. Those who believe in it miss the real calling of God as declared in the verses I’ve quoted above. Those who are rich in this world are exhorted to be ‘ready to share’ at every opportunity.
When our priorities line up with God’s priorities we have what everyone seeks: success in this world. That success may or may not involve riches but certainly the emphasis is on the true riches — those we can store in heaven where neither moss nor rust corrupts and where thieves cannot break through and steal.
Matthew 6:20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
Let’s put our emphasis on that which God emphasizes. Let’s get busy doing the works of God in this world so we are not ashamed at Christ’s coming. God will supply everything you need to do your part in the body of Christ — successfully. God bless those who are doing what God will have them to do.