A billion dollars is a lot of money. A LOT of money. You have to make someone a millionaire a thousand times before you spend a billion dollars.
And that’s what Warren Buffet promised to do for anyone who can predict the outcome of March Madness. All you have to do is accurately predict the winner of all 67 games and he’ll send the check. Actually, he won’t just give you a check. He’ll come to the last game with you and give you investment advice. It’s a great opportunity. He’s not risking a whole lot, mind you – the odds of picking all 67 games correctly is around 1 in 9.2 pentillion (that’s a billion billion). In fact, about 70% of your brackets bit the dust the very first game of the main draw when Dayton upset Ohio State.
But that number – $1,000,000,000 — got me thinking. I know a lot of missionaries on deputation right now who just want to go serve the Lord. I know some great churches who want to update their buildings. I know some wonderful families that have serious financial needs. A billion dollars would go a long way. And God already knows who will win every game. Maybe Warren Buffet and March Madness is how revival can come to America.
That of course, is overstatement. But who hasn’t had a similar thought at least once? Why can’t Bill Gates be a good Christian? What if Mark Zuckerberg got saved? Or what if Barack Obama heard the gospel and starting holding revival meetings every year for his State of the Union address?
I wouldn’t be opposed to any of that. Those people need the Lord. But there’s something deeply flawed about measuring the progress of Christianity in dollars or celebrities; there’s something even worse about placing our hope in them. On the contrary, Scripture teaches us to expect the opposite.
Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age…? But we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
This becomes much more personal as well. It’s far too easy to measure ministers and ministries by the same standards. “Look at that massive building! He was on the New York Times Bestsellers list. They get interviewed all the time!”
And the underlying assumption is that money, recognition, or big buildings represent ministry success. Sometimes they do. Often they don’t.
More importantly, God never told us to spread the church by becoming celebrities, working our way into the public consciousness or accumulating huge amounts of wealth. If that happens, it happens. But the primary way Christianity has spread is simple—people telling people about Jesus; normal lives conducted in faithful obedience to the gospel; good churches faithfully proclaiming the truth. Influencing lots of people is a wonderful thing. Christianity has spread around the globe and touched the lives of billions of people. But that began not with a generous grant from a well-endowed donor, but with eleven faithful men who sacrificed themselves to share the truth with anyone who would listen.
If you filled out brackets for March madness I hope you win. I hope you give Warren Buffet the gospel while he tries to give you investment advice. I hope you use the money to send lots of missionaries, build lots of church buildings, and help needy Christians. But whether you win or not, your calling is much simpler. Be a good Christian every day of your life. Share the gospel everywhere you go. Be faithful in your local church for the glory of God. This is “the power and wisdom of God.”