Like adventurer Indiana Jones believing artifacts belong in museums, I believe the gospel of Jesus Christ should be free. God redeems people “without money and without price” (Isaiah 55:1). So, on the cross, Jesus redeemed us by his precious blood rather than with “corruptible” silver and gold (1 Peter 1:18-19). Peter told the lame man at the temple gate that he had no money, but he would give him what he had – healing in Jesus’ name (Acts 3:6). Peter later condemned Simon the Sorcerer for believing that the gift of God could be bought with money (8:20).
So why do we charge money for the gospel, presented in the form of events and merchandise? If someone insists on charging a fee, then it should cover only production and travel costs. Still, donations are better. How dare we profit at Jesus’ expense? Why is the church of Christ, a poor carpenter who had no place to lay his head, in the business of making money instead of saving souls (Matthew 8:20)? The church should not be a business. Nor should it disenfranchise the poor and keep them spiritually blind. Yet charging people money for God’s free gift of salvation is doing just that. We are fleecing God’s flock instead of feeding them (Ezekiel 34). The church is listening to the “prosperity gospel” prevalent today, to its eternal detriment.
When did wealth become a virtue? It used to be a vice; Christians took a vow of poverty. In some countries today, conversion means losing one’s job. Yet in Western nations, greedy people are attracted to the church so they can become rich off the poor. Still, poorer Christians usually have the greatest spiritual wealth. James was right; “the poor of this world” are “rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom” (2:5). They have found true riches. Wealthy Christians, however, are often spiritually blind. Some become wealthy through prudence, others through greed and a refusal to share. They take rather than give. Ananias and Sapphira kept back part of the price of land they sold to the church, dying after Peter condemned them for lying to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:1-11).
Jesus told the Laodiceans, “You say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ – and do not know that you are … poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17). He wants us to buy “gold refined in the fire” so we will be spiritually rich (3:18). Have we listened and obeyed? Have we sold everything we have, given to the poor, and followed Jesus so we will have treasure in heaven (Matthew 19:21)? Or would we rather store treasure here on earth? One rich man wanted to tear down his barns to build bigger ones. God told him, “Fool! This night your soul will be required of you” (Luke 12:20). Heaven or hell: the choice is ours.
 New King James Version (NKJV), unless otherwise noted