Come to Church for $1000!
Imagine, if you will, what would happen if some eccentric, billionaire philanthropist announced in your local newspaper that during a certain assembly of the church he would present each person who was gathered with $1000?

The population of Clinton, Illinois, where I live is only about 7000 souls, and the building where the saints assemble is small and can only seat around 100-125 comfortably (and that's only if we use a bunch of extra chairs in the aisles and partitioned classrooms). Where we normally would have 25-30 gathered, I would expect several hundred packed into every corner of the building for something like this (standing up, of course, to make more room for others). I can envision thousands of people covering every inch of the church yard. If people really believed the philanthropist was going to keep his word, the majority of the city would probably show up and even those from neighboring communities would catch wind of the news and make the journey. I can imagine this part of town being shut down with gridlock as so many vehicles tried to arrive on time (and find somewhere--anywhere--to park for an hour or two). I wouldn't be surprised to see people struggling for position, trying to get closer (preferably, inside the building) and thereby guaranteeing that they wouldn't miss out on an easy grand. I'm sure the newspaper and television crews would be present and there would be a lot of excitement and an optimistic spirit of anticipation. I imagine even some brethren who often struggle to make it on time would arrive uncharacteristically early and likely even bring all their family members, neighbors, and friends, too.

I can see both the rich and the poor, the fat and the frail, the believers and the infidels, the conservatives and the liberals, and the famous and the infamous showing up for a gathering like this. People who hadn't spoken to each other in years would stand next to each other, if necessary. The "once-a-weekers" and the "once-in-a-whilers" would certainly be there. The "shut-ins" would find a way to get there if at all possible as would those who normally sleep in. The backsliders would slide back into place and all of the puny excuses and anemic alibis and any other kind of lies people have been telling themselves (and concerned Christians) about why they didn't attend worship would disappear like roaches before Raid. Yes indeed, this gathering of people would make the average political convention look like a country picnic--that is, until the money was passed out. Surely there'd be a major slump at church after that (though I suppose the local economy might be greatly stimulated!).

Friends, obviously, the above scenario is not likely to happen anywhere soon (in fact, I would be against it even if I knew a generous tycoon who desired to make it happen). Such an emphasis on money would do no good for the Lord's work or the recipients of the money. Local businesses would benefit and the generous giver would probably feel pretty good, but that'd be about it. The chances of converting someone to the truth when covetousness is used as the chief motivator is exceedingly slim.

I want to leave you with a simple thought to reflect upon as well as some powerful words of wisdom from Jesus. What kind of person would do for money what he would not do for his own soul? Why does $1000 inspire action where the reality of impending judgment and certain death do not? Our Lord declared in Matthew 16:24-26 - "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?"