Just a few days ago, I read that actress Jennifer Anniston purchased a one-bedroom penthouse apartment in New York City for $8 million. Facebook creator Mark Zuckerburg had recently bought a $7 million home in California. Last December it was reported Michael Jordan is building a home in Florida with an estimated value of $20 million. The secular media doesn’t mind celebrities and athletes having multi-million homes. Yet they will have a conniption fit if a preacher buys or is given a house for a fraction of that amount.
Even some believers get critical of brethren with nice domiciles. One time a homeless man I met in Florida complained about a pastor having a $500,000 house. Before you pity this homeless man, I should point out he was a modern-day Jonah running from the call of God on his life. God will pour out His blessings upon everyone who will obey His will for their lives. Isaiah 1:19-20 says, “‘If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; But if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword’; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
Christians will someday walk through pearly gates on a street of gold and have a mansion in heaven (John 14:1-2). A wall made up of twelve different kinds of precious stones surrounds the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21). Sounds like God desires His people to live in beautiful places.
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus prayed for the Father’s will to be done “…on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10) Joshua 24:13 talks about the Lord giving the Israelites, “…a land for which you did not labor, and cities which you did not build, and you dwell in them; you eat of the vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant.” Therefore, a Christian shouldn’t be made to feel guilty by jealous brethren for having numerous possessions including a nice home while on earth. It’s not up to any individual to dictate how much a believer should or shouldn’t have. That’s between him and the Lord.
Earlier this year in Alabama, I met a woman who felt led of the Lord to reside with a group of homeless people in “Tent City”, a makeshift shelter in the woods. Of course, not all Christians are called to live like that. Those that are usually do so for a season to reach out to certain individuals. One time in San Antonio, Texas, the Lord led me to stay at the Salvation Army for a night. Although it was an uncomfortable environment, I got to minister to several people there.
Some missionaries like myself have traveled from city to city without a permanent home. In her book “Tramp for the Lord”, Holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom wrote about living out of a suitcase for years while preaching around the world. Corrie still desired a place of her own. God eventually blessed her with one where she spent the latter years of her life.
Admittedly, there have been times I’ve considered leaving the mission field and go back to working a secular job so I would have a more “secure” lifestyle. Just this past week a Facebook friend posted this comment online…
“A good friend I went to college with started out in full time ministry. He had some bad experiences and decided to become a fireman instead. I talked to him today. He is retiring with great benefits and a nice house at a young age. I told him, ‘I'm jealous of you.’ He said, ‘Don’t be, I wish I had the courage to stay with ministry. I'm jealous of you.’ Wow, kind of helped me see things in a different way.”
While I still desire my own house, I will trust God to provide one at the right time and not settle down somewhere for the sake of being comfortable. Serving the Lord occasionally requires sacrifices. But there are rewards when a Christian is willing to give up worldly possessions and the approval of man to obey the call to preach.
“Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.” - Mark 10:29-30