Have you taken the $100 challenge with your faith? Some ambitious secular people do it when they determine they will pursue success at all costs. Maybe it’s something we should consider doing to pursue a life in Christ.
Some years ago a fledgling,and highly ambitious, stock market trader by the name of Minervini challenged a friend as they rode together in a car. Minervini was so motivated to succeed at his chosen profession that he declared $100 was nothing if he really intended to make it big. Clutching onto $100 was petty; it was scarcity thinking. To think big and really go after all he desired in life meant that he had to let go of everything that kept him from the financial greatness he knew could be his. He had to believe in himself so much that a lousy $100 meant nothing.
Minervini proved to his friend that he was dead serious. He actually had $400 in his pocket. Four hundred dollars or $100, it didn’t matter. He took out all those bills and let them fly out the window. The scarcity mindset that had kept him constrained was a thing of the past. He applied himself to his work and became wildly successful and immensely rich. Author Jack Schwager chronicled Minervini and his $100 challenge in a 2001 book titled Stock Market Wizards. His friend didn’t take Minervini up on his challenge that day. He couldn’t see past the $100 to a life of abundance, so he never came anywhere close to achieving what Minervini did.
When I read about this, it struck me that far too many Christians have this scarcity mentality. Not about money, but about the abundance found in Christ alone. In America and other first world countries, we have a pretty good life. Even the poorest among us have far more than the majority of people living in third world nations, where making $30-60 per month is the norm. As Christians, we have the luxury of going to a nice church building every week and worshiping without any concerns about persecution. We put in the offering plate what’s comfortable to us, not usually stretching our finances. Even the least of us likely has one car and air conditioning.
These and other aspects of life and faith have led us to a place where Jesus is simply one more piece of the puzzle of life. He’s a part of what we do, but usually at the periphery. The sad thing is that many of us resemble the rich young ruler in many respects. We check off the boxes, saying, “Yep, I’ve got that covered. Oh, that one, too.” And, “ I think I’m good to go with my faith.”
But, if pressed like that wealthy young man, how would we respond? If Jesus came up to any of us on the street and said to follow Him, but, by the way, we have to live like the homeless, would we do it?
In the poor backwater nations that have so little, it’s not as much of a stretch for people there to give up possessions, since they don’t have any to speak of. Their challenge in one respect is more difficult because it’s more personal. When a Muslim or a Hindu, or someone of almost any other faith, chooses to trust in Jesus, a lot more is at stake than nice clothing or a substantial bank account. In those countries, their religion is part of their identity. To turn one’s back on Islam or Hinduism or even the worship of one’s ancestors is to insult their family and bring shame on them. Most of these are shame-based cultures, as opposed to our western, guilt-based culture. The shame of one in the family extends to all. Thus, to turn one’s back on Muhammad, for instance, and to follow Jesus Christ is to bring immense shame to the entire family.
For being the cause of this shame, the person who brought it must have correction. Often it’s severe pressure, such as being locked in a room for months. With many former Muslim Background Believers (MBB), it means they become the object of extreme verbal abuse or phyiscal torture. In many instances it can mean a death sentence. This is often true regardless of the religion outside of Christianity.
Making the choice for Christ is a life-changing event in these areas of the world. It’s so difficult and produces such angst that it sometimes takes months or years for people to step over the line and publicly declare their new faith. In other words, it’s very costly to become a true Christian. MBBs and others coming to Christ realize the cost. Yet, they count it and declare it all joy.
People in this situation have taken the $100 challenge. They realize the scarcity of their former way of life in the faith they practiced. To follow Christ, they symbolically empty their wallets and let fly $100 or whatever amount they have. They’ve decided to go “all in.”
How much are we willing to commit to truly live in Christ the way He has commanded us? Are we holding tightly to this world and the things we have? If so, we’re no different than that poor little rich boy. Jesus said in Matthew 19:23-24 to his disciples:
“Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”
Maybe it really is harder to give up our riches and our lifestyle than it is to face persecution. Are we holding loosely to this life with our eyes on Christ and yearning for His soon return? Of course, we have a strong will to live, but as aliens in a strange land, are we just as happy whether we live to work for Jesus here or to go home to be with Him?
It makes a difference, because it defines whether we’re in this world or simply of the world.
Charles Spurgeon, in commenting on Philippians 4:12, where Paul says, I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound, wrote:
There are many who know “how to be abased,” but they have never learned “how to abound.” When they reach the pinnacle of success they become dizzy and are ready to fall off. Christians disgrace their Lord far more in prosperity than in adversity. It is dangerous to be prosperous. The crucible of adversity is not as severe a trial as the gold pot of prosperity….When we are full and forget God, we become satisfied with earth and forget heaven.
Perhaps, if we choose to take the $100 challenge of faith and truly trust Jesus completely, we would actually experience life, and have it more abundantly (John 10:10), just like Minervini in his secular pursuit when he tossed his money to the wind. Except, we’d have the real thing.