(See note # 1.) An imaginary letter to Paul the apostle approximately two millennia ago:
Paul of Tarsus:
The intent of this letter is to propose a more efficient way to advance the gospel, which I understand to be the burden of your heart.
While I appreciate your gallant effort to repair tents to help finance your travels, I suggest we contract an alliance whereby I inject my business skills to enhance the success of your ministry.
Your letters are well read by christians throughout the Roman Empire, and your reputation as an apostle, endorsed by colleagues in Jerusalem and further endorsed by signs and wonders, has opened a lucrative door of opportunity. This is my proposal:
- I will hire copyists in five key locations within the empire to produce an extensive supply of copies of your letters to be sent to numerous locations.
- I will hire travelling agents to offer our products at house churches and various places of sale. Agents will be paid by commission.
- The price of each duplicate will be determined by market demand, expenses incurred, your salary sufficient to cover travel and provisions, and a reasonable profit for myself.
I encourage you to take advantage of your flourishing credibility by producing more writings, from short articles to extended manuscripts. I can supply rewriters and proofreaders to increase production.
From a business perspective, it is imperative we saturate the market quickly. When others of influence, e.g. the original apostles, realize the potential profit from marketing the gospel and their teachings, they undoubtedly will simulate our strategy.
This is a win-win opportunity. Your influence over the minds and hearts of christians will greatly increase. You will be able to travel with speed and safety (and comfort) to areas thus far unreachable. And this venture will inject needed commerce into local christian communities.
I envision the coupling of your anointing and my expertise will result in the furtherance of the gospel you so dearly love.
Your brother in Christ,
Marcus of Antipratis
(See note # 2.) An imaginary response from Paul the apostle to an imaginary letter sent approximately two millennia ago (read previous article):
Marcus of Antipratis:
Thank you for your letter inviting me to participate in your business strategy. My reply is an emphatic “no”.
My precious brother, the truths of God are not to be marketed alongside fish and cattle and spices. Believers are not to be charged for Christ’s spiritual goods. The Father gave His Son and His Son gave His life. Christ was our example when He walked among us, and Our Example did not sell.
Can’t you see how your trust in business and profit has corrupted your perspective?
Would you approach the mother of Jesus with your business plan, suggesting she testify of her miraculous impregnation and her life with the Holy One? Surely her testimony would be more lucrative than my letters.
Do you really think Peter would accept a salary to feed the Lord’s lambs? Or John would market the keen insights received from the Holy Spirit? Or the others would record for gain the many adventures with their Master? Can you really visualize the noble centurion profiting from his servant’s healing?
On two occasions the twelve witnessed Jesus thoroughly enraged by the money-changers in the temple and the religious leaders who profited from their wicked expertise. And all twelve heard the Lord Jesus plainly instruct, “Freely you have received, freely give.”
Honest business is honorable. But business often becomes an idol, something more attractive than Christ. I encourage you to be a part-time businessman, not a part-time disciple. Busy yourself laying up treasures in heaven. Do not be enticed by what our High Priest called “the deceitfulness of riches”.
Ministry can never be lord. Compromise, always a temptation, brings dreadful consequences…. always. Should generations after us stagger in unbelief and compromise, let it not be because of our immoral precedent. He commanded “freely give”, “freely give” is easily understood, “freely give” is what we must do.
Paul of Tarsus
Note # 1: This is taken from a series of articles, 333 Words…. Exactly. (www.333words.org)
Note # 2: Same as # 1.