Out of curiosity, I had watched a Catholic mass through a live streaming recently. But this mass is not your typical kind of mass. The venue was in a first-class indoor arena. The male guest speaker narrated a bible verse that tells a story about a biblical figure who had offered oil and flowers to the Lord.
Then after telling the story, the speaker moved on to deliver his unique “homily.”
The guest speaker had explained its obvious meaning. Everybody can agree that God loves offerings. So right after his explanation, he enthusiastically exclaimed to the crowd, “raise your oils and flowers and offer it to the Lord!”
After seeing the crowd with no response, he reiterated, “ok, who among here had brought their own flowers and oils for our offering?”
At the time I had heard that, I’m not sure what he was talking about, I was like, “who would bring their own oils and flowers in a mass?” Or maybe I was wrong — I guess this is some part of their “religious protocol”.
But when the crowd still gone silent, and the guest speaker “felt” that no one bring their own stuff, the guest speaker asked in confusion, “walang nagdala?”* Then he proceeds on blaming someone: “hindi ba na-announce na magdala sila?”** He obviously had a long sigh, “acting” like he was frustrated.
*No one brings [oils and flowers]? **No one announced that they need to bring?
After “contemplating” for a while, he had eureka!
“I got a better idea!,” he said, “how about getting our wallet out?” So he pulled his wallet out of his pocket, hold it high, waved it in the air so the attendees will see.
Then after that, he said, “how about getting our checkbook out?”
Upon hearing that, I know already where this is going. “O-oh,” I said to myself — and I was right — he even pulled out a checkbook out of his pocket! As if that he has that checkbook along with him all of the time in his pocket! I guess he was prepared enough.
“Come on, give it to the Lord!”, he said, “for those who are giving checks. . .Give to the Lord! Be generous!”
You know where this story is going.
(Actually, the scene got shortly interrupted, as it was time for some “commercial break announcement” so the viewers will have information on where they can address the check, and other announcements like, “and for those who will give through bank deposit, here’s the account name, and account number.”)
There is nothing wrong about being generous. Nothing is wrong in giving. I believe in giving. The more you give, the more you will receive. I believe that the mass had its own good intentions on helping people help themselves.
But after the guest speaker had pulled off this “stunt,” something strikes me and wondered, “is there a concealed motive on why the speaker read a Bible verse first with the main intention of getting people to give money and checks?”
“Is this a part of some ulterior motives?”
(Everybody say “ulterior motives”.)
Have we ever wondered why there are so many religions in this world?
Let’s say on Christianity alone — why there are so many Christian denominations out there, e.g. Catholic, Born Again, Baptist, some sects, some fellowship, Protestant, etc. Did we ever wondered why there so many of them?
As an atheist before, I had frequently quoted, “Religion is a multi-billion dollar business.”
Well, I am not an atheist anymore, so I had forgotten that philosophy. But after watching that kind of “stunt” through my own eyes, it makes me think of that quote again.
Ok, let’s get into the topic, but before that, I have to give a full disclosure, because you might get “shocked” on what is written on the proceeding argument.
Full disclosure: No one commissioned me to write what I write. If you asked me what my current religion is, yes, I am a Catholic (by default), and yes, you can call me a hypocrite for “believing” in contrast to its practice. I’m not claiming to be a pastor, in fact, I never dreamed of becoming one.
Let’s be aware, and seek truth on what the Bible says. (Oh no, the Bible again?) Relax, this is not some kind of other preaching stuff that are typically out there! I’m not trying to convert anyone of you into something. At the end of the day, people will believe in what they wanted to believe. It’s your choice by the way. All I wanted is for us to look through another “lens.” Let us not be blind!
As I said, I’m an atheist before, but at that time, I believe that I know more of the Bible than those who are practicing faith to get by.
What I’m trying to say is, is it more of a good practice to know what we believe in?
Religion is a multi-million dollar business
Q: Why does it happen that there are many kinds of Christian denominations out there?
A: Because “some” build a religion with its main goal is profit. As far as I know, profits that are make from religion are tax-exempt here in the Philippines.
For our information, this kind of doing has been foretold in the Bible.
2 Corinthians 2:17 (NIV), “Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.”
See? This is the apostles saying, that they are unlike MANY who preach the Word of God with the intention of having PROFIT.
Let’s take a look at the picture below of that verse in the translation of English Contemporary Bible:
The picture above is word another reading (and an all caps):
“A LOT OF PEOPLE TRY TO GET RICH FROM PREACHING GOD’S MESSAGE.”
How do religions earn?
A: Take my satirical previous post on Facebook as an example so you can get an idea:
*Translation: I will sell postcards or T – shirt that had printed the word of God. As if we should have paid the word of God . I will monetize using the word of God. Hahaha! Is that right to do so?
Or, I will do what pastors do. I will accept prayer requests, in the bus, and of course, they are required to pay! If the pay will be in high amount, the request will be quickly granted. I will say I have a high praying aptitude if I can get paid high. Hahaha. But they should not realize that paid prayers are worthless! And realize that God does no business by proxy. Haha.
When we pray, we can go straight to Him, right?
The example above had reflected a way on how a certain religious group will earn. They sell merchandise using the Word of God. You can see it everywhere. People selling books, (even e-books on Play Store and Apple App store), images, rosaries, prayer requests, to baptismal fees, wedding fees, etc. They can earn a multiple ways if one is so inclined.
But there is another way for a religion to earn more exponentially than this.
It is through tithes. The popular and debatable tithes. Giving your tenth (10%) of your income are required in most religious sects. Yes, tithes, are mentioned in the Bible.
Hebrews 7:5 (NIV), “Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people that is — from their fellow Israelites — even though they also are descended from Abraham.”
But these laws are obsolete, as reflected right after seven verses from that line.
Hebrew 7:12 (NIV), “For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also.”
The former Levi priesthood was changed when Jesus Christ came. So then, what is the new law?
You know the popular saying “God loves a cheerful giver?” That supersedes the “tithing” law. Of course, it is also found in the Bible. But first, let’s complete that verse.
2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV), “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
The keyword here is the word “compulsion.” Compulsion is the state of being forced to do something. Tithes are an essential requirement for some religion. A requirement is something that you are forced to do. Then, tithes forced you to pay for something!
Isn’t it tithing and “giving NOT under compulsion” are concepts that are contrasting?
To put it simply, God doesn’t want us to give because we feel we must.
God teaches us the values of giving, as long as we are happy with it, as long as our heart is willing to give — even it is less or more than 10% of your income. But whenever a church required tithes, you give money because you are forced into it. It invalidates the preceding Bible verse.
We can say tithes is used for the operational expenses of the church. Yes, actually, it is! It is used to pay the rent of a certain big venue.
Now, what if, as there are instances, the money that you “offered” to the Lord came from “wrong ways” of earning, such as, gambling, money that had gained hastily (Proverbs 13:11), money that was earned by deceiving others, money that incapacitates others (too much interest, exploiting others); and it happened that we do not know that the Lord told us not to earn money through these ways (or worse, we know these laws, but we did not follow it?)
The question is, can the money that you offered now become “sacred?”
(Even the Anti-Money Laundering Act can be applied to you.)
“Oh well, whatever, nevermind.”
It doesn’t matter anyway, whether your money came from good or “evil” to those people who preach the Word of God just for the sake of having a profit!
But, as you will become more aware and think — does God need your money? God does not want your money! Actually, he does not need money. Right?
You know what God wants? What God appreciates? God wants your time, share your love to others, and — this is the hardest part for the others — follow what it is written in the Bible, no more and no less.
Now if the money will be used in some form of charity, medical missions, and to help those who are needy, that’s good! It is the sacred use of money, as long as this money came from “good” ways. Whenever by this means will be used to help our brother, you do it to God. Remember the Golden Rule, right?
But, as I say, if the money is accumulated by some deceitful “stunt,” if this money is accumulated with ulterior motives — think again! “Give to the Lord!” You might been brainwashed by a person to what the Bible calls a “false prophet.”
The False Prophet
1 John 4:1 (NIV), “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
Matthew 7:15 (NIV) “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.“
Yes, that’s right! That’s why as you can see in the first photo of this article, I put up a drawing of a wolf (although it looks like a roasted pig.)
Q: How to detect a false prophet?
A: A false prophet is teaching what is not written in the Bible, or paraphrasing what is in the Bible, or “interpreting” what is in the Bible for their own interest, saying some invalid ideals. I heard someone say, “. . . it was written 3000 years ago and so that Bible line is not relevant anymore!” How can you somebody say that? Then don’t use the Bible at all! It is not relevant naman pala!
But when it comes to tithing law, all are relevant. How come?
Another disclosure: You can say, I might be the one who is “interpreting”; but hey, for the record, at least I am not using the Word of God through this blog just to “manipulate” others so I can have PROFIT!
Then, why many people believed with some “manipulative” religion and its false prophet?
You can answer it if you looked at my drawing again.
You might be familiar if you ever watched a preacher claimed to heal a certain sick person on stage, just by putting his hand on the forehead of the sick person, citing “exorcism” prayers, then boom! The sick person collapses and everybody applauses, claiming that the person is now healed!
Do we know that not all miracles are from God?
These Bible verses are worth reading:
Matthew 24:24 (NIV), “For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”
Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV), “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me,you evildoers!’”
2 Thessalonians 2:9 (NIV), “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power, through signs and wonders that serve the lie.“
See? Not all miracles are from the will of God! We have to watch out!
But how do false prophets “market” themselves that they can perform miracles?
Many false prophets will say something like they had encountered God through a dream, or they have a “vision.” In that way everyone will believe what the false prophet might say. They claimed he or she had a conversation with God.
Nah! Even Homer J. Simpson can say that!
False prophets daydream a lot. Read:
And also, false prophets are very positive people. They instill hope to the people. There is nothing wrong to be positive and give hope to the people, because some people don’t know that they still have that hope.
But again, if they used this style to “market” and draw people to them so they can eventually ask for tithes for personal interests such as profit, there is something “fishy” in these.
Even though they have to use absurd “persuasion” techniques, just like the following statements. This may sound familiar to you:
“Sino dito gusto makapunta ng Amerika? Kung oo, tumalon tayo ng sampung beses para sa Diyos! Pagdating niyo sa bahay, makikita niyo, andun na sa mesa niyo yung passport!” *
*”Who wants here to go to America? If yes, then let us jump ten times for the Lord! When you go home, you will see on your table your passport!”
“Gusto niyo magkaroon ng pera? Ilabas niyo ang wallet niyo! Iwagayway niyo ng mataas para sa Diyos at magkakalaman iyan ng madaming pera! Pag nagkapera kayo, siguraduhin niyo wag niyo kalilimutan ang ikapo!” *
*”You want to have money? Get your wallet out! Wave it high for the Lord and it will be filled with lots of money! When you get your money, make sure that you don’t forget to pay your tithes!”
See? Is this what we called the Law of Attraction? Or a technique used by a false prophet to “attract” people?
The false prophet knows people are always motivated by money, in fact, they know it because they can relate themselves into it. I’m not saying money is not essential. In fact, there is a Bible verse that state that money is essential.
Ecclesiastes 10:19 (NIV), “A feast is made for laughter, wine makes life merry, and money is the answer for everything.“
But we must take note also, for The Bible says:
(Wait, relax, I’m not going to quote
and paraphrase the famous verse, “The love of money is the root of all evil,” which can be found at 1 Timothy 6:10.)
Matthew 6:24 (NIV), “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.“
NO ONE CAN SERVE TWO MASTERS… YOU CANNOT SERVE BOTH GOD AND MONEY. Especially when your PASSION is teaching the word of GOD, please, DO NOT TURN IT INTO PROFIT! Don’t turn this passion into profit! Did the apostles do their “work” for the sake of having profit?
Neither did Jesus, who died poor on the cross.
But why many people become “obsessed” with some “manipulative” religion and its false prophet?
This is what I think the world gets wrong. Many people think that doing the conventional things wherein most people follow and do is always the right thing to do. Remember, not because many people “do” it, doesn’t make it right.
Here is the proof:
It is worth noting. Again, as the New International Version says:
Matthew 7:13 (NIV), “. . .For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, AND MANY ENTER THROUGH IT.”
So you cannot just simply say that because you have many members, it means that you are on the right side.
Many people will go to malls than those who go to church. Many people spend time on playing online games, browsing their Facebook and on some internet stuff rather than reading something very useful.
SEE THE POINT?
Ok, I’m sorry, if this blog is somehow too long.
For parting words:
I believe in God and especially the teachings in the Bible (no more, no less, no interpreting for their own sake, no paraphrasing).
For in these writings, we can seek the truth, and we can be guided on how to live a better way of life. (But not in “some” religion.) Ever since, I was “shopping” for a religion that speaks about the TRUTH. You can call me confused. Yes. But I had the Bible as a basis. Maybe I will build my own religion.
I know I am not perfect, but at least, I believe, I’m not a follower of something that is false. And I hate to see someone else became blind because some blind leads them. Hence the saying, “the blind leading the blind.” (Matthew 15:13-14).
Or you can say I am the one who is blind, or I am a false prophet.
That’s why I welcome bashers, and to those who want to try to “enlighten” me. Thanks, for this is also Biblical:
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
And here’s my favorite:
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5)
P.S. If you had watched the film The Matrix, and decoded its Christian allegory theme, you know what I mean. Most people are not ready to be “unplugged”, they go on with their everyday lives, without seeking the truth. They said that we have to be always happy. But this is some kind of a “dumb” thing, like suffering is no part of life. What? Suffering is essential in this world, so every victory will be “sweet” if we overcome suffering.
Look at Jesus who died for all of us. Did He not suffer at the time of his crucifixion?
I will explain these to my next blog.