Probably not. Jesus said: "It is easier for a camel to go thru the eye of the needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." Mat 19:24 So why even spend time inviting rich people to heaven? That's the attitude we see in many churches. The preponderance of evangelism efforts are focused on poor people, people in prison, broken people who have made lots of mistakes and have nowhere else to turn but Jesus.
Look at all the ministries focused on "the lost", all the sermons focused on brokenness. But just who are "the lost"?
Do this exercise — think about who you envisioned when you just read "the lost". Was it someone at a bus stop, or someone in a Mercedes? Were they in jail or in a mansion? Was it someone living paycheck to paycheck, or someone in authority? I'll bet it was the former in all cases. Why? Because satan did what he always does - deceives us into a huge mistake. The mistake is ignoring successful people.
Rich "successful" people won't get to heaven because you are not inviting them! The talking snake says "Don't waste your time".
But we need to take the gospel to them! God wants them in heaven as much as he wants the struggling people in India. No successful General would leave his home-base weak and vulnerable to attack and sabotage, but we focus major evangelism efforts on missions in third-world countries and neglect key people right here at home. Isn't it bewildering that other countries have begun to send missionaries to America to save the lost? And when we are not hopping on airplanes, we are looking under bridges for the homeless. Yes, we all agree on the need to provide temporal and spiritual help thru charitable work that harmonizes well with rescuing souls, but some of the most lost people are on your TV! And they are dragging hoards of followers down with them.
So Where Should We Fish?
Satan is thrilled when sermon after ineffective sermon is targeted only to broken people. And if they are not already broken, we invite them to be broken in Jesus name. Sure, as we mature in the Lord we understand Jesus principle "Die to self, bring forth many seeds". John 12:24 That is an internal process that should not be confused with the task of recruiting an army of leaders to follow Jesus. It is time to invite those "good people" who pridefully believe they are winners, to understand that they can only have true victory by following Jesus. As "fishers of men", we need to set hooks at ALL depths of society. So we need more fishermen, and that's primarily why God wants you to consider this message.
Only the realization of sin leads to Jesus, so we should bottom-fish for souls among the most broken people. Intuitively, that would be inmates. But are they really the most broken, and open to receiving Jesus, or are they just a captive audience? Successful prison ministries abound, and we know that they are winning many souls to Christ. But I submit that any time you put that much effort and resources into any people group, the Holy Spirit will be found moving there and you will see professions of faith. Some will hopefully continue to manifest after release. There are notable examples like Chuck Colson (Watergate) who may never have come to the Lord except that he wound up in "time out". Counter-intuitively, when sociologists surveyed groups of people to learn who ranked highest in self-esteem, the top-ranked group was prisoners. If we can break thru prisoners hard shell, why are we not talking with business and political leaders?
Who do you think is most likely to have a profound influence on bringing people to Jesus, someone who has a history of bad decisions, or someone with proven ability to make good decisions? Who will people look up to and say "If s/he is following Jesus, maybe I should find out more about Jesus"? Would Amway billionaire and Orlando Magic owner Rich DeVos influence more people than the guy in prison or the one under the bridge? How many more people would be lost if it had not been for the light of Jesus that shines thru Rich DeVos?
Who did Jesus pick as apostles? Was it ignorant beggars? No, not one. It was hardworking fishermen, a physician, a tentmaker, even a tax collector. Study the bible; these were not ignorant men. True, what Jesus was telling them for three years did not sink in until Pentecost, but they were not the poor, they were the mainstream. True, Jesus did not pick the intelligencia; the Scribes and Pharisees had too much power and status at risk to heed His message. But the message didn't spread much beyond Jerusalem and the West Bank till He picked Paul who was highly educated and powerful, and took the Gospel to the far corners of the earth like no other apostle. Paul's communication ability is evident in his writing a third of the New Testament, and his spreading Christianity through the known world. We need to recruit more successful people like Paul into the kingdom of heaven. Would Jesus be pleased that we are ignoring successful people?
Excuses are many. Perhaps the most lame excuse is that successful people are too egocentric to feel a need for God. Did you read somewhere that successful people do not have that God-shaped hole in their heart like the rest of us? Statistics and the tabloids say just the opposite. Given their drive to succeed, and all their worldly demands, perhaps their hole is even bigger than yours. Scratch the surface and you will see rich successful people searching for peace, joy, and happiness (view testimonies) just like YOU used to do. They need the same Jesus you found. They need to see Jesus in you.
Man the lifeboats! These people need to be rescued from their delusion that the world can provide the fulfillment they seek.
Why Focus on Celebrities?
With a few notable exceptions like quarterback Tim Tebow and actor Kirk Cameron, we've learned to expect that most celebrities will succumb to some sex or drug scandal as they search aimlessly for meaning in their lives. We don't even call their foibles a scandal any more, and the public feasts on the details. Fame and fortune provides distractions we cannot afford. Ever wonder why it seems like everyone branded by society as "celebrity" seems to eventually fall into sex and drug slavery? They are desperately looking for peace, joy, and happiness and don't have YOU to tell them about Jesus. Satan rushes in to fill the void, especially among celebrities. Satan figured that if he can delude the leaders, masses will follow, and he has been right.
The enemy knows that people will look up to, and emulate, the depraved lifestyles of fallen celebrities, so he's got a wide open door to the masses who will embrace depravity as normal.
Pause for a moment and ponder. What do YOU consider normal? Is Tim Tebow normal, or an exception?
Why do we even set NORMAL as a standard to be achieved? Why does anyone aspire to be normal? At best, normal equates to mediocre! Sodomy and bestiality was normal in Sodom and Gomorrah. Shall we sink to that standard, or proudly hold up the bible as our standard and proclaim anything less as sin, or at least a missed opportunity to love? Are you too timid or "non-judgmental" to call sin a sin? Have you fallen into satan's lair saying "That's not for me, but I don't want to judge someone else's choices? Stop equivocating! Is abortion just a poor choice, or a sin? We've gotten so non-judgmental we don't even hold our politicians accountable when they codify abortion as normal, do it in our name, as our representatives, then force us to pay for it!!!
Allowing satan to freely reap the harvest of celebrities has been a huge mistake leading to lowered expectations and more souls turning away from heaven.
Why Focus on Business and Professional Leaders?
Evangelistic abandonment of business and professional leaders worldwide has taken its biggest toll on American society. America grew to a powerhouse because in a Christian nation, Christian principles, especially honesty, were paramount - more than anywhere in the world. Honesty was the lubricant that made free enterprise run smoothly. Without honesty there is friction, and government steps in to gum up the works. Playing games with the rules (dishonesty) erodes confidence, and people’s willingness to buy or invest. We will only escape the mire of financial manipulation, corrupt courts, corrupt markets, self-serving regulation. bad loans, and make-believe financial statements when business and government once again behave according to the two Great Commandments — love God, and love your neighbor. This is essential to restoring honesty and seeing God's favor again.
Civilization took a 5,000 Year Leap when America followed its Christian heritage. How much further did science progress when, like Sir Isaac Newton spending half his day studying the Bible, science was pursued as an attempt to know the mind of God, instead of an attempt to prove He does not exist? You can't expect to arrive at valid conclusions when you start with a false premise excluding a Devine Designer. Spiritual ignorance is wasting our resources in pursuit of false gods like "Mother Earth".
While they may not have stopped to consider the mega-question of where they are going to spend eternity, professionals and business people did not get successful by making stupid decisions. When presented with good information, successful people exhibit an extraordinary ability to make good, logical decisions, and smart choices. I quickly noticed that it is easier to work with wealthy clients due to their ability to make decisions quickly, and to pick important issues from the surrounding noise. Making smart choices comes with practice, and manifests in habits like choosing to learn while others kids are playing, choosing to defer gratification while others spend their time and money on today's pleasure, keeping one's word rather than making excuses, and striving to constantly improve.
More than any group, successful people are logical. Learning that sin is a consequence of opening doors to satan, and hell is a consequence of rejecting the free gift of salvation makes logical sense. Their education and training makes it more likely business and professional leaders will respond to the Lord because they constantly deal with benefits and consequences of decisions in the natural realm; and the beauty of the Father's salvation plan is exquisite — if you would only present it to them.
Successful people tend to want control, and the prospect of learning how to tell satan to get out, instead of ceding authority to him, is quite appealing. To them, taking responsibility and growing into becoming an overcomer in the spiritual realm parallels their overcomer status in the natural realm. Learning how to get peace in one's life is worth investigation and study. The great irony is that you only get control of your life when you submit to Jesus, get indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and exercise your Christian authority purchased on the cross. Successful people are depending on you to tell them!
Why Focus on Political Leaders?
Our Founding Fathers did not mandate a state religion, reasoning that if Christianity could not prevail in the rigors of debate, it was not worth pursuing. But this is a Christian nation, founded by Christian Pastors - 29 of the 56 Declaration of Independence signers (52%) had seminary degrees! Why have we not maintained that high standard among our representatives? Why do today's voters think a law degree qualifies anyone for leadership? I submit that satan has chipped away at America's leadership by convincing us to accept lesser intellects who don't know the Lord, and to abandon our evangelization of successful people, especially college youth. Our most prestigious colleges, founded under the auspices of Christian churches, are now bastions of atheism. America's greatness flowed from our priorities in keeping God first; Pastors served in political office, and as first judges of the law. The Great Deluder beguiled us to substitute law degrees instead of divinity degrees as the prime qualification for holding office and applying laws in court. Legal lying has evolved into an art form.
For 260 years, America's brilliant Founding Fathers learned to read using the New England Primer, a reader based solely on the Bible. Now we Christians allow people aligned with satan's plan to strike the very mention of God from every facet of education and society, and to make laws and decisions directly in conflict with God's law. To their detriment, Christians avoid politics instead of asserting dominion and throwing satan out.
Join the Overcomers
How are we inviting people to join Jesus? Do we feel more pious inviting people to come join a bunch of sinners? What successful person wants to join an organization full of losers? Not one person who serves Jesus is a loser! It is false piety; we are overcomers! Paul prayed that the Ephesians would be enlightened to "His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength He exerted when He raised Christ from the dead". Eph 1:19 Wow! Many churches act as though (and some actually teach) we just need to hang on to our salvation and tremble every time satan comes knocking. Nothing could be further from the truth! Jesus purchased a lot more than "fire insurance" at the cross. He totally defeated satan, and handed Christians the ability to do supernatural wonders in His name. Jesus said "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils" Matt 10:8. Jesus said "He that believes in me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these" John 14:12. That's a lot of power! If we (as the donkey carrying Jesus) were doing the signs and wonders he commanded us to do, we would experience better results in our daily walk, and people would be drawn to Him just as they were drawn when Jesus walked the earth performing miracles. It is His proven formula for success.
The overcomer's message appeals to successful people, especially when they see committed Christ-followers enjoying and living the blessings, or when they personally meet someone who experienced a miracle. There is nothing like that experience to transform you from believing -- to knowing!
When people realize Jesus first miracle was turning water into wine, to keep the party going, and that Jesus said "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" John 10:10. it transforms the Accuser's lie that God wants to kill their fun, into the truth that God loves and wants to help them.
You can't deliver the salvation message till you get people in the door, But it does little good preaching a variation of the salvation message to the same audience every Sunday. Instead, congregations need to get constantly discipled in discipleship. In His last words before ascending into heaven, Jesus told us to GO! Mark 16:15 There are many ways to GO effectively, from handing out tracts like the famous Green Street Evangelist (this clip is really motivating), to one-on-one evangelism, to discipling, to helping the poor. But we all need to be motivated to GO, get out of the comfortable pews, overcome fears of how to start a conversation and what to say, and not worry about the embarrassment of not having all the answers we assume pastors have. Nowhere did Jesus tell us to hire professional evangelists and missionaries, he told each of us to GO and make disciples.
The best way to love your fellow man is to invite them to heaven. I pray that pastors will motivate everyone to GO, and we will each have long lines of believers following us into heaven so we can avoid getting embarrassed at this question:
Marketers teach that in order to sell the product, you have to be a product-of-the-product, completely sold on it being great. You can't do that if you just stop by for a sample on Sunday. Get engaged, and invite some "Rich People" to heaven.
Richard H. Webb
For an effective primer on how you can have fun doing evangelism, visit Way of the Master. Please also take a few minutes to visit the other hotlinks in this message.
PS. These thoughts stem from observations in my personal evangelism. I have no formal seminary training. Please focus on the imperative of introducing a very lost segment of society to Jesus, and not my inadvertent misstatements, or some small difference in sectarian doctrine. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
*Editing note: satan does not deserve capitalization.
Evil Exists Because Love is a CHOICE
It seems that one of God's highest values is volition or FREE WILL.
It is so important that he allows everyone, even the angels to make
choices. He may nudge us in the right direction with grace and even
forgive our evil choices, but the choice to love him and our neighbor is
ultimately ours. LOVE, his highest value, absolutely requires choice
and the ability to choose to not love. The absence of love is EVIL
with all of its consequences and manifestations (death, sin, sickness,
war, strife, temptation) that ALL come from satan, not from God who
created everything perfect.
2012-2015 Richard Webb 321-480-5514
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