While watching TV the other day, I saw an interesting ad for an extermination company. A giant bug rang the doorbell on a nice home and claimed he had the pizza someone ordered. The man, looking perplexed said “I didn’t order a pizza”. It was the bug’s way of tricking the homeowner into letting him in his house. Suddenly the pest control guy pulls up and the bug makes haste and peels away in his car. The pest control guys then sticks his sign in the yard to indicate pests can’t get in because he is there preventing it.
Of course this scenario conjures up an untold number of Sunday school lessons one could teach. Not allowing the enemy in your ‘house’, the Holy Spirit as guardian over demonic pests attempting to sneak in disguised as something they’re not, and the list goes on. My mind, instead, thought along different lines. While this national company spoke of a guarantee to rid your home of bugs, how long could they stay in business if they were able to get rid of roaches, mice, and other creatures to the point they’d never return? It seems they actually have a vested interest in making sure they don’t get rid of them completed. How else would they get repeat customers and continue to make money?
Without getting too conspiratorial, how much research money would pharmaceutical companies and universities lose if there were suddenly cures for cancer or MS? Doesn’t it stand to reason there is a vested interest in NOT finding a cure? The same could be said about building cars to last longer, with tires that won’t wear out, and with parts that don’t break as easily (such as timing belts that used to be timing chains). If a cure for a terminal disease was found, there’d be literally billions of dollars lost (or saved, depending upon your perspective) and there’d be a lot less auto parts stores if cars were built to last.
How does this apply to a spiritual lesson? Turning the dial across almost any Christian TV or radio station you’ll hear many saying something that’s both positive and dangerously misleading at the same time. Paul declared we are saved by grace through faith in Christ and that it’s not anything we do or don’t do that saves us — it is grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). The Bible teaches we are justified AND sanctified through Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross, that works cannot accomplish this (Romans 4:13-16; Romans 5:1-2; Romans 6:12-23). Yet all too many ministers today emphasize buying their latest book or participating in the upcoming seminar or attending the next conference in order to gain the tools for a successful prayer life, financial increase, marriage enrichment, or even victory over sin.
Don’t misunderstand. One of the five-fold gifts for the edifying and building up of the church body is teachers and this tool will be needed in the Body until Jesus returns. If we examine the message and the motive, we can discern the vested interests of a ministry. A definition of vested interest is “personal stake, or expectation of personal gain, that underlies a strong commitment to maintain or influence an action” In other words, if church members grasped the concept of faith in the completed work of Christ on the cross, eliminating the need for a “Five Principles” book for a love gift of $25 or “12 Part DVD Series” with a $99 donation, how would that affect the finances of that church? It depends on what the true motives of the particular ministry are! James mentions how unstable a double-minded man is (James 1:8).
Double-mindedness is saying all you need is Christ for complete victory AND to do this and that and the other in order to gain success in life. What if all the pests really could be eliminated and the terminal disease cured? Spiritually, it is done!