Today I may sound a bit preachy. I am disturbed because something has been awakened in me - let me give you the backdrop.
Since Resurrection Sunday, NBC has aired A.D. The Bible Continues, done by Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, each Sunday at 8 P.M. (Central Time). I have faithfully watched for a couple of reasons. First, because the Book of Acts is one of my favorite books of the Bible and I was curious to see how they depicted it. Secondly, I am apparently the only person in America that didn't see The Bible when it aired on The History Channel. I had issues with a few of the cable channels, for some reason the dialogue couldn't be heard. I didn't press the issue because I don't watch those channels enough for it to have been a problem at the time. But, I kicked myself later when we discovered the l.a.d. had pressed the language button and that was the reason for the lack of sound .... Thirdly, I just want to support a real Christian show, one where Jesus' name is said throughout and it isn't for a laugh.
So, as I have been watching I have realized that the church has strayed away from doing some biblical fundamental ministry. One of the things that jumped out at me is how churches today give to people in need. Some, don't give at all, other's give very little and a few do give but they are so bogged down in red tape, federal funds or secular sources, and also mistrust - I wonder if it can be looked upon as giving from the heart ...
If we are the church, and fundamentally we are God's hands and feet and we are supposed to be in partnership with Him, why is it so hard to find help? Why is there so much red tape? Why are we using government funds and secular resources? Upon first glance it doesn't seem like a problem ... If a secular company wants to give, why not? If the government has money flagged to help, what's the problem? I see the problem in allowing others taking care of the people instead of the church. We are supposed to give enough so that those in our congregations and fellowships do not have to seek assistance from elsewhere. We are supposed to give enough so that people in the community know they can come to us without being shamed - and trust me several are being shamed.
The church shouldn't look like or operate like a welfare office, we should be different. We should look like Jesus and give with His love. I venture to say very few are doing that.
Yes, it may look good on the outside but are we changing lives in the process? Are people actually coming to Jesus because of our example? Are they curious as to why we give what we give and how we give? Or, does it feel like they have gone downtown to the government offices?
If we, as congregants would give to our local body without fear and trust God to meet our needs, we would see a difference in our communities as those in need trust the church to treat them with dignity and love. If we weren't so afraid of our bottom line and hold back a portion as Annais and Sapphira did (Acts 5), we would be well on our way on making true disciples of Jesus Christ.
Yes, I am aware that there are those that seek to take advantage of such endeavors. And yes, I am well aware that safeguards have been put in place to ensure that doesn't happen. I believe in being a good steward but I also believe in allowing God to handle those situations. He will either convert or convict - it is our duty to just be about our Father's business.
How can we change this?
Give to our local church body. I do not want to get into the discussion of New Testament giving - to tithe or not to tithe (giving 10% of your income) . Whether you believe in tithing or not, we are still mandated to give generously.
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:6-7 NIV)
Then, talk to our leaders about how we are giving to those in need. If your church isn't giving, challenge your leaders to search the scripture and pray about it. If they are all for it get the whole church involved - because it takes every person doing his part to accomplish God's will (1 Corinthians 12: 12-26). Now, here is the deep down soul searching part: If for whatever reason your local body decides not to give in this manner at this time, what will you do?
Will you give as the Holy Spirit leads you?
Will you give in a manner that makes people curious about your walk with The Lord?
Will you give so generously that people have to know your Jesus?
Giving in this manner it doesn't have to be solely monetary. One of my sisters used to drive around the city and give homeless people food and water - on her own. A pastor I know would give from his own personal resources, even though his church did give benevolence to the community. I have given when I have had the money and when I haven't (admittedly sometimes wrestling with the Holy Spirit about my own needs). I have given (and received) things like clothing, food, furniture, transportation, etc. for needs.
Even if our local body has not grown to the point where they give as a whole, that shouldn't deter us from giving individually. Afterall, each of us make up the church.
Are you up for the challenge?
Just Around the Corner,