Last week, the local Christian music station raised $130,000 in ONE DAY to help with repairs of a broadcasting tower in Ecuador that had the “potential” to reach 7 million listeners. I have very mixed feelings about this very successful fundraiser.
In one sense I am filled with joy that the Gospel of Jesus Christ via music can continue to be broadcast in a distant country. But, at the same time I am filled with grief that every single stinking month, a site such as this one cannot find enough donors within its membership to even begin to pay the bills.
Is broadcasting Christian music in Ecuador more important than publishing Christian blogs anyone in the world with internet access can read? Does the word “mission” automatically imply a trip to a foreign country? Whatever happened to the downtrodden, hopeless, sick and imprisoned in your country, in your state or your town?
“Mission” is one of those words that can mean a kazillion different things. I suppose the correct definition for raising money to fix a radio tower is the following; “a campaign of religious work, often including community aid at home or abroad, carried out by a church”. I understand the idea but I find it interesting that so much of “mission” work now days is to third world countries and nowhere else.
30 years ago I remember doing “mission” work in south Philadelphia. I organized a large group of people to descend on the very neighborhood Rocky Balboa made famous to pick up trash, get rid of graffiti and share the Gospel with curious onlookers.
There are so many demands placed on believer’s finances it is unbelievable. Between constant cries for help from individuals along with the weekly badgering from the pulpit, few Christians have much left to share. What remains is usually given to some charity or “mission”. For most Christians, once they have exhausted what they designated for giving, there is no reason to even talk to them about giving more.
The tithe is all well and good, but if people put up a stop sign at 10% and assume they are righteous before God if they give that, there will be a multitude of needs within the Body of Christ left unmet. Besides, most people who only give 10% usually start fudging on that percentage and before long they are giving 5% and in their mind still calling it 10%.
When reading what Paul said about the believers in Macedonia in 2 Corinthians 8, it is very clear that Paul’s definition of giving had nothing to do with some percentage but rather an attitude of heart. Truly two of the most amazing verses in this section are found in 2 Corinthians 8:2 and 3:
“How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality
For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves .”
These people gave LIBERALLY when they had nothing. These believers, despite being in the throes of a great trial of affliction and deep poverty, continued to give LIBERALLY. These wonderful people of God refused to be hamstrung by circumstances but rather with great joy gave LIBERALLY of themselves and all they had.
The Macedonian believers were not interested in just giving 10% or throwing a few dollars in the offering for Paul’s work. To the contrary, these incredible believers literally gave everything they could possible give because they were so thankful for what Paul had taught them and the compassion in their hearts based on hearing of his need.
I pray we all shake ourselves out of the 10% mentality and see that in our current age, we should be seeking to give ALL WE CAN and not trying to get away with doing the minimum. I pray that we pick and choose wisely where and to whom we give both of our resources as well as our very lives. I pray we all can rise up and be the 2012 Macedonians in our thinking and actions.
While I believe that we will endure trouble in this world because we simply live in it, I also think there are times we bring things upon ourselves. Sometimes these things are the result of sin in our lives. Other times, we run into trouble because of poor choices or habits. Then of course, there are the times God tells us to do things and we ignore it. Then we wonder why we have struggles.
I believe giving is not optional. I believe there is a difference between tithes and offerings and I believe God wants us to do both. I know there are people who have said they cannot afford to tithe. I understand that because I have had those same feelings before and yet I still believe that God requires us to do both. God requires us to give for a reason. Giving is good for us. Giving is what God does and if we want to be like Jesus... we must give.
The two verses in Corinthians got me. I remember how much giving was a fact in the early church so much so that in the Didache it said that many felt it was wrong to have anything if someone was in need. Thanks for some needed exhortation to good works.
I suspect I will get some really stern "coaching" about what I'm about to say, so I'm putting on my armor. LOL.
I, like you, blessings, have tried to let the Bible speak for itself. I call this "taking off my church glasses." In this, I just cannot find the principle of "tithing" in the New Testament. I think 10% is a good, quantifiable number for those who need a "cutoff" point, as you mentioned to feel righteous before God AND a good number a church staff can use to promote the building of new buildings and doing "mission" work SOMEWHERE else than right around that building being paid for.
What I see is that God NEVER blesses us for our own sakes but to use us a conduit to pass the blessings on to others in need. Admittedly, where I live and at the church I attend we rarely see that many people in need as mentioned in the New Testament. And here we go, His work is RARELY accomplished outside of His followers doing it. If we don't, He won't. I beleive that's why we're here.
So rather than trying to get UP to 10%, I see God prefering our being willing to give 100% of all available surplus to those in need. If we didn't have multi-million dollar facilities and salaries, this would be much easier for a church to do, don't you think?