6th Apr, 2009

God Can Multiply But I Cannot Be Divided

I went randomly to a month in 2007 to see what I was writing back then. I found this post. I thought it worth re-posting. It was originally a part of a “synchroblog” on Money and the Church.

Money and the Church are two hot topics. They both engender feelings of love and hate in people. Money is both needed and detested – loved one moment, and despised the next. Church is increasingly becoming a topic like money – both loved and despised. Put the two topics together and it goes nuclear. So, here goes my thoughts related to these topics.materialism.jpg

Since I have been in “Christian” circles I have heard 100+ people quote the below verses, noting them as one of their favorites, and I have held them dear as well.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

In short to worship God is to offer ourselves completely to Him as a living sacrifice.

Clearly, if we are to offer our bodies, our entire selves, as living sacrifices there are subsets of our entire selves that must also be offered. So, it shouldn’t be shocking to write the same verses in this way:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your wallets, your retirement funds, your stock portfolios, your checkbooks, your accounts, your jobs, your entire purses as sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God.

But, I think if that were how those verses had been written they would be quoted much less often. In fact, I know that has been true for me most of my life, and, as a result, I must conclude that the thing I worshiped more than God was money. We all know that Jesus told us long ago we cannot worship both God and Mammon (“More”), but we seem to try time and time again. In fact our entire culture is built upon it.

When ministries and people have needs for funds and we hear about them, even when they are ministries that we desire to give to, we often don’t go to God and ask Him, “Lord, how much do you want me to give?” Instead, we turn to our budget and our wallets and ask it “Lord Budget, do I have any extra to give to this need?” And, of course, the budget always seems to be like whats-in-your-wallet.jpgthe famous Capital One commercials. We have no faith that God will provide everything we need to accomplish His word in and through us; instead, we are blinded by our devotion to our budgets to all God can do through us. In fact, how often have you gotten upset with a church for asking for money too often? Don’t we know we serve an infinite God? Only the enemy tells us the lie that there is a finite number of resources available to God’s children.

I know in my own life I have lived as though the bible said things like this:

But seek first your job and your financial portfolio, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Give to everyone who asks you when they have something to sell you that you want, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, sue them.

That last verse keeps resonating with me. What it reallys says is to “give to everyone who asks of you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.” Because of Jesus’ teachings on money and giving, I really don’t understand some very commonplace things that occur in churches and ministries today. For example:

(1) The big fad of microlending… how does it fit in with this teaching?

(2) Just this past week my nephew wanted to sell me a calendar to “support his youth’s mission trip.” Interesting concept. Buy something I don’t need at too high of a price so that a mere pittance of the total cost can help support a mission trip. Why wouldn’t I just give the 20 bucks?

These things creep into churches because our culture, including our church culture, is built not on giving and receiving but on buying and selling. It is built on having more stuff, regardless of need and sometimes regardless of want! But the Kingdom is built on giving and receiving, serving and loving.

It is no accident that there are about 10 times more verses about money and finances in the bible than on almost any other subject. It is no accident that Jesus pitted God against Mammon in the verse I mentioned above. Money has us by our throats and the only way to combat it is to become more and more generous and grateful and to escape the vicious merry go round of more and materialism that our culture teaches us. We must walk in the opposite spirit. We must not be conformed any longer to the ways of this world and instead be transformed by the renewing of our minds through the teachings of our One True Lord, Jesus.

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