The following is my contribution to the Oak Grove Baptist Church Newsletter for May 2020:When I was a pastor prior to being here at Oak Grove, I would work through Bible Study that focused on answering real-life questions. I called them Q&A Bible Studies, and we looked at a variety of topics. One that came up was about money and the thought many have that it, specifically, is “THE root of all evil.” While fragments of that thought are Scriptural, it’s the parts missing that make the most difference to the meaning. To complete the Scriptural idea behind it, Paul actually said in 1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil…” Those important details make it a vastly different statement.
You see, money is an agency, a vessel, for product and services that Satan has the potential to use in devastating ways. However, just as Satan can use money in negative ways, God can utilize money (and does) to change the world through ministries, large and small. As another old adage states, “money makes the world go round”, and this world can be both a beautiful and terrible place, depending on the actions and circumstances set about in it. Money has great power to do both good and evil, so Christians must endeavor to use whatever we have for good.
Is the internet, likewise a medium and vessel but for information, that much different? I would say no. Just like money, the internet isn’t inherently evil. It’s all in how it is utilized. However one feels about it, the internet has allowed our church to continue these past number of weeks. Was it exactly as we would have wanted it? Absolutely not, but as someone who sees the statistics of our online services, rest assured, Jesus has been uplifted and the Gospel preached to people who have never set foot on our physical property. Some never will for different reasons. However, I do believe that we will see new faces as a result of our newfound exposure to people who needed to hear the message of Christ in a very trying time. The internet, that, yes, could have pointed any one of them in a bad direction, led them to us.
Just like financial matters have the potential to give any one of us concerns, we may feel unsure about these new web-based avenues of worship. I would say caution and discernment are no doubt Scripturally wise, and we need to prayerfully consider all that we say and do. Though, I would conclude by sharing that I feel the principle for the responsible use of money found in 1 Timothy 6:10 gives us at least a direction to prayerfully consider about the use of online ministry in our church. I would never consider streaming services to be a replacement of anything we do, but rather a supplement. We share, and God does the work in hearts beyond that…wherever those hearts are.