If Satan is on the Throne!
Years ago, on a flight out to California, I read a magazine that had been left in my seat. It was The Financial Post (1997). The article that caught my attention was "Acts of Faith". It was a story about Father Quinn working for justice down in South America. I can't remember where now. It was an incredible find because it provided some counsel that would sustain me in the very difficult years that were to follow. The article says,
Father Quinn has accepted government funding in his time, but he has always refused to compromise his principals for any sum of money.The courage of the man, not only resisting temptations to compromise his message and work for financial support, but also working against incredible opposition that at times was cruel and brutal, struck me deeply. I think similar temptations face us every day. In the ministry, I am completely aware of the power of money to determine what we do or don't do. One of the first things that comes to my mind, I must admit, when I am faced with a difficult situation in the church, is, "What effect will this have on our income?" I admit it. I've long since decided to go forward with what I believe I must without allowing the increase or decrease of income interrupt it. I learned it first, and hard, about 10 years ago when I made a decision that ultimately caused my church to split right down the middle. We saw our income as a church drop over 50% because, unfortunately, many of those who left were some of the most generous givers. Those who split off were even advised by other pastors to withhold their offerings to put pressure on the leadership team to comply with their demands. We refused to buckle under their pressure, and we've not only survived, but I think we are healthier for it. Since then, for the most part, I've not allowed economics to be a factor in pursuing our vision. It's also caused me to realize that my vision of what the church can be cannot depend on the success of it's environment. If my church is only healthy if its finances are good, then there's a problem. If the church's health depends on government handouts, social acceptability, or external support, then it's not at its healthiest. Quinn was quoted in the article as saying,
We always work in such a way that if the devil got the throne, we'd be okay.In other words, if their work only succeeded with the tolerance or even cooperation and support of the government or the society, then inevitably it would become a tool of the government and society for it's own self-interests. I've tried to operate with the same attitude: even if Satan was in control of the finances, social acceptance, culture, buildings, religion, the world-- everything-- we'd be okay. We're not there yet, but we're getting there.