Why Research?by Neal Eller
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:21, ESV
The following is an excerpt from David Platt’s recent book, Follow Me: A Call to Die. A Call to Live.:
“So if you had nothing but people— no buildings, no programs, no staff, and no activities— and you were charged with spreading the gospel to the whole world, where would you begin? Would you start by pooling together your money so that you could spend millions of dollars on a building to meet in? Would you get the best speaker, the greatest musicians, and the most talented staff in order to organize presentations and programs that appeal to your families and your children? Would you devote your resources to what is most comfortable, most entertaining, and most pleasing to you?
Researchers estimate that Christians in North America give an average of 2.5 percent of their income to a local church (which I think is probably a generous estimate, but we’ll go with it). These local churches then give an average of about 2 percent of those funds to the spread of the gospel overseas. In other words, for every one hundred dollars that a professing Christian makes in North America, he or she gives five cents through the local church to the rest of the world.
Simply put, this cannot be the case among authentic followers of Jesus. Not only have we been spiritually saved from our sins, but we have been materially entrusted with great wealth. In the words of Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, “The Bible’s teachings should cut to the heart of North American Christians. By any measure, we are the richest people ever to walk on planet Earth.”
Why are we so wealthy? I’m convinced Psalm 67 is the answer: “The land will yield its harvest, and God, our God, will bless us . . . and all the ends of the earth will fear him.” God has given his people worldly wealth for one purpose: the spread of his worldwide worship. Disciples of Jesus live simply and give sacrificially because we want the glory of Christ in all nations more than we want nicer comforts, newer possessions, and greater luxuries.”
I was extremely challenged when I read the excerpt above. Now, you may ask, “what does this have to do with research?” Did you see it? Maybe the better question is did it break your heart? “Christians in North America give an average of 2.5 percent of their income to a local church!”
We see facts and figures like this; then toss them around like hot potatoes never giving any thought to the validity or to the ramifications of such information. Facts can be our friends but as an end unto itself, it does not reveal the root cause of such outcomes (Matthew 6:21).
The purpose of pointing you to research is simply to help you understand current reality. I know that it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to look around and see the United States economy is in the pits, to see the shrinking of the middle class, to see poverty, hunger, and extreme need living right next door. Then why as Christ-followers have we not been shaken to the very foundation of our being to respond as Christ has commanded; to respond out of our love for Jesus in extending His grace to those in need?
I too want to be a part of the people David Platt describes below, how about you?
"I want to be part of a people who really believe that we have the Spirit of God in each of us for the spread of the gospel through all of us. I want to be a part of a people who are gladly sacrificing the pleasures, pursuits, and possessions of this world because we are living for treasure in the world to come. I want to be part of a people who have forsaken every earthly ambition in favor of one eternal aspiration: to see disciples made and churches multiplied from our houses to our communities to our cities to the nations."
Follow Me: A Call to Die. A Call to Live., David Platt