I’m still in Russia with a fairly full schedule – teaching during the day and meeting with local church leaders during the evening and trying to catch up with my email and other administrative work at night.
While in Northern Africa, on my way to Russia, we stayed over with a prominent local church leader in that country. As in most countries where Christians are in the minority, most of the Christians are very poor. We passed through an area where about 90% of the people living there are Christians, but I can assure you that neither sticks nor stones nor Bible verses will convince any outsider to live there! The smell is awful! The living conditions cannot be imagined by anyone living in the type of housing that we are used to. Yet they have started a church in this area which is flourishing and growing and where thousands of people are attending.
In contrast to this the church leader whom we stayed with had a meeting with other church leaders while we were there. They were busy making arrangements to receive a very prominent female TV evangelist in their country who would be conducting some seminars. (Fortunately I can’t remember her name.) She had told the local church leaders that they will have to fetch her at the airport in a rented vehicle. She specified that it should be the very latest model Mercedes Benz. When enquiring about accommodation they offered to find place for her in a five-star hotel. After informing her about the facilities available in the hotel she told them that she’s not satisfied with that and she wants something better. Eventually they found her a seven-start hotel at a modest $800 per night where she will be staying while in this country!
I nearly became sick when I heard this. I’m not saying that she should live in the area I described above. But where does this person get the audacity from to demand the latest model luxury vehicle in which she should be transported and then sneer at the mention of a five-start hotel which isn’t good enough for her? How is it possible to demand accommodation at a price per night that the local Christians will not even deserve in a whole year?
As I listened to this story I just realised how easy it is for Christians to become so comfortable in their personal circumstances that they cannot relate at all to those whom they are called to serve. And in any case, how can you serve someone if you are visiting those people with a proud attitude instead of with a humble spirit? I couldn’t help thinking of the words of Jesus in Mark 10:42-44: “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.”I can hardly think that demanding to be chauffeured in the very latest model Mercedes Benz and demanding to be accommodated in a seven-star hotel complies with what Jesus expected from his disciples.