This story was sent to me in an email, which I then sent as an email, but I thought it was worth posting here as well.
THE QUESTION THAT CHANGED MY LIFE
-by David Ryser.
A number of years ago, I had the privilege of teaching at a school of
ministry. My students were hungry for God, and I was constantly
searching for ways to challenge them to fall more in love with Jesus and
to become voices for revival in the Church. I came across a quote
attributed most often to Rev. Sam Pascoe. It is a short version of the
history of Christianity, and it goes like this:
Christianity started in Palestine as a fellowship; it moved to Greece
and became a philosophy; it moved to Italy and became an institution; it
moved to Europe and became a culture; it came to America and became an enterprise.
Some of the students were only 18 or 19 years old–barely out of
diapers–and I wanted them to understand and appreciate the import of
the last line, so I clarified it by adding, “An enterprise. That’s a
business.” After a few moments Martha, the youngest student in the
class, raised her hand. I could not imagine what her question might be.
I thought the little vignette was self-explanatory, and that I had
performed it brilliantly. Nevertheless, I acknowledged Martha’s raised
hand, “Yes, Martha.” She asked such a simple question, “A business? But
isn’t it supposed to be a body?” I could not envision where this line of
questioning was going, and the only response I could think of was,
“Yes.” She continued, “But when a body becomes a business, isn’t that a
The room went dead silent. For several seconds no one moved or spoke. We
were stunned, afraid to make a sound because the presence of God had
flooded into the room, and we knew we were on holy ground. All I could
think in those sacred moments was, “Wow, I wish I’d thought of that.” I
didn’t dare express that thought aloud. God had taken over the class.
Martha’s question changed my life. For six months, I thought about her
question at least once every day. “When a body becomes a business, isn’t
that a prostitute?” There is only one answer to her question. The answer
is “Yes.” The American Church, tragically, is heavily populated by
people who do not love God. How can we love Him? We don’t even know Him;
and I mean really know Him.
… I stand by my statement that most American Christians do not know
God–much less love Him. The root of this condition originates in how we
came to God. Most of us came to Him because of what we were told He
would do for us. We were promised that He would bless us in life and
take us to heaven after death. We married Him for His money, and we
don’t care if He lives or dies as long as we can get His stuff. We have
made the Kingdom of God into a business, merchandising His anointing.
This should not be. We are commanded to love God, and are called to be
the Bride of Christ–that’s pretty intimate stuff. We are supposed to be
His lovers. How can we love someone we don’t even know? And even if we
do know someone, is that a guarantee that we truly love them? Are we
lovers or prostitutes?
I was pondering Martha’s question again one day, and considered the
question, “What’s the difference between a lover and a prostitute?” I
realized that both do many of the same things, but a lover does what she
does because she loves. A prostitute pretends to love, but only as long
as you pay. Then I asked the question, “What would happen if God stopped
For the next several months, I allowed God to search me to uncover my
motives for loving and serving Him. Was I really a true lover of God?
What would happen if He stopped blessing me? What if He never did
another thing for me? Would I still love Him? Please understand, I
believe in the promises and blessings of God. The issue here is not
whether God blesses His children; the issue is the condition of my
heart. Why do I serve Him? Are His blessings in my life the gifts of a
loving Father, or are they a wage that I have earned or a bribe/payment
to love Him? Do I love God without any conditions? It took several
months to work through these questions. Even now I wonder if my desire
to love God is always matched by my attitude and behavior. I still catch
myself being disappointed with God and angry that He has not met some
perceived need in my life. I suspect this is something which is never
fully resolved, but I want more than anything else to be a true lover of
So what is it going to be? Which are we, lover or prostitute?