LUKE 5:1-11

".. they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break."

Recently, a megachurch pastor in Atlanta told his congregation he needed a new luxury jet. Citing safety concerns, he determined that the old jet they had been using was no longer adequate, so now he needs a new Gulfstream G650 to help him take the gospel around the world. He has issued a challenge for 200,000 people to

"sow $300 or more to help" to purchase the $60 million aircraft.

It is worth pointing out that if you want to take the gospel around the world, you could purchase a lifetime's worth of commercial airline tickets for a lot less than $60 million, but this move is consistent with the teachings of the prosperity gospel. According to this school of thought, "sowing" a tithe is a way of ensuring God's blessings of prosperity on your life, including financial prosperity. Or, to say it another way, financial prosperity is a sign that God is pleased with you. (Never mind the fact that Jesus directly challenged this way of thinking.) The average person can endure the humiliation of long lines at the TSA checkpoint to fly coach, but if you really want to be a witness to God's faithfulness, then why not zip from New York to LA in 2.5 hours on a private aircraft with two multichannel satellites, high-speed Internet, and a wet bar? To God be the glory!

In Luke 5, Jesus calls his first disciples. According to Luke's version of events, he has Simon and James and John put out their hets after a long night of unsuccessful fishing. At first they protest, but then they oblige the strange rabbi and catch more fish than they can haul. The boat is so full of them that it almost sinks. What abundance! What prosperity for these fishermen! God must really be pleased with them.

Well, yes, God is pleased- pleased enough that he invites Simon and his colleagues to become a part of his mission to redeem the world. But the real currency of that blessing is not economic. The way Luke tells the story makes it clear that the fish are representative of the lives of people. The large catch of fish symbolizes all those who will hear the gospel and respond to the invitation to become a part of the kingdom of God. If the church is faithful, God will bless it by using it to bring people into the fold of redemption.

In fairness, it is not my place to judge that pastor. God alone knows the real intentions of his heart and of his vision of ministry.

After all, my church is currently building a multimillion dollar facility that will house, among other things, a basketball court and a coffee shop. Somebody somewhere will likely say that we are being extrav-agant. Such undertakings must be understood in the context of the ministry they are trying to fulfill. But at the end of the day, the real mark of faithfulness is not the size of our buildings or the luxury of our modes of transportation or the cash balance in our bank account.

The mark of faithfulness is whether we are inviting and welcoming people into the kingdom. God already has all the gold and all the silver in all the hills of the world. Thats why he deals in the currency of people.

Are we faithfully managing that economy?

Holy God, help me today to be a faithful steward of the relationships you have given me. I hrough Christ, Amen.