the bride of Christ and what’s in her pocket

Posted: February 9, 2015 in Uncategorized

Our pastor is talking about money lately.  He’s doing a 3-part sermon series on it.  I appreciate pastors who will talk about money; for much of my life, I supposed the tithe was a self-serving invention of pastors – until I heard a sermon series that included a whole lot of scripture.  I won’t pull all of those out right now – I’ll just point out that, “It’s in there.”

I wasn’t a tither at all for most of my life.  Not even close.  I felt like I was doing something huge and magnanimous if I put $5 in the plate once in awhile.  Once I heard my first good teaching on it, I started.  This was when I still had both of my kids at home.  Money was tight, but I was astonished to find that tithing did NOT make money tighter.  Actually, somehow, miraculously, our money went further. It was mind-blowing.

If you’ve been around the blog long, you know I start things and then lose them sometimes (my struggle with weight and body image being at the tippy-top of that list.)  That’s what happened with my tithing.  I lost my grip on it somewhere along the line, and it was a long time of not hitting the mark.  That was before I moved to JPUSA.

After I moved back from JPUSA, somehow tithing was easy.  It was an “of course” proposition, perhaps because of the obedience habit I had developed in the way I had followed His lead in going TO that community (a dream come true and answer to countless prayers), and the way I had followed His lead in coming back FROM that community (the furthest thing from what I wanted, absolutely not my plan nor my heart’s desire…still, I followed.)  I can still testify:  tithing does not make my finances harder.  Somehow, money works out much better when I’m doing it, than when I’m not.  I guess this is because it’s a biblical principle – I guess God gives the gift of making it all work out.

Not many folks tithe.  Yesterday there was a church-planting visitor in our church, who told us that about 8% of the church tithes.  That number was even lower than I had guessed – I sort of felt the wind going out of me when I heard it.

Our pastor found some astonishing statistics about what would happen if every Christian just tithed 10%.  They include:

  • We could relieve global hunger, starvation, and deaths from preventable diseases in five years.
  • We could eliminate illiteracy in five years.
  • We could solve the world’s water and sanitation issues, specifically at places in the world where 1 billion people live on less than $1 per day.
  • We could fully fund all overseas mission work.

This is not a “pick one of these” list – we could do ALL of these things, and would still have over $100 billion left over to expand the Kingdom of God.

Those statistics cause me pain – but imagine how much they must pain the heart of God.

He gave us a plan wherein what we have is enough to take care of ALL of that, with SO MUCH MONEY left over to spare – and we’re letting it fail, daily.

Imagine, for a moment, a world in which all of the above listed problems are solved.  Think of all of the other RELATED problems what would be reduced or solved, because of those.

Imagine, for a moment, how the church would look to the world around it.  Imagine that the first thing they think of when hearing about us is not the things we are against.  Imagine that they hear the church mentioned and they think about how they or others they know have been helped.  About family members who didn’t die, thanks to the gift of the church.  Imagine it.  Imagine that the first mention of the church might make folks think about what we are FOR.  That we are FOR them.  That we are FOR their well-being.  That we are FOR their freedom, their joy, their fulfillment.  Imagine in.  Can you even imagine it?

God has made a plan wherein there is enough – MORE than enough.  And we don’t get the benefits of that plan because we refuse as an entire church culture to follow the plan.

We get to cringe at commercials with starving children in them…because we won’t tithe.

We get to watch people struggle to negotiate life on food stamps, and other folks judge and criticize them for needing to…because we won’t tithe.

We get to go on missions trips and learn the massive scope of need in third-world countries…because we won’t tithe.

We get to guiltily avoid all the books and blogs and documentaries and many sources of information about the plight of the poor across the world…because we won’t tithe.

We get to go to Christian concerts and then squirm uncomfortably for ten minutes while World Vision begs for our help…because we won’t tithe.

We get to know that fellow human beings suffer and even die unnecessarily from preventable diseases…because we won’t tithe.

We get to struggle in our various congregations to pick and choose which things NOT to do, good causes, life-saving causes…because we won’t tithe.

Because as a larger body, 92% of us won’t tithe, a world around us goes without, and we give God a black eye.  And people suffer and struggle and probably blame Him for not rescuing them, when their rescue is sitting in our pockets, or in our bank accounts, or in the nice new stuff we bought, or in our overblown credit card debt, or in our ever-increasing need to have a little better, a little nicer, a little more.  He gets the blame, while we waste the money that He gave to us, to use for them.

I know I’ve gone clear off the rails into a rant here.  If I made you feel like crap, it was never my intention.  I’ve just been reeling ever since hearing those statistics.  Thinking about the potential power and might of the bride of Christ, and how she’s buying herself shiny things with the cash that she was given for the good of those around her.

Isn’t it horrifying?  I’m not setting out to condemn anyone.  Just pause for a few moments and imagine with me.  And if you don’t see it, don’t feel it, don’t get it…my apologies for the rant.

  1. Mindy Warren says:

    Hi Karen,
    I read all of your posts. I’m glad you’ve started writing again!
    I’ve passed this one along to Cajun and he’d like to put this post in our church newsletter. Of course we’d give you credit and we would also point others to your blog. Would that be ok?
    Mindy Warren

  2. Cindy Maynard says:

    Karen, I am in total agreement with God and you on this. We didn’t tithe until a few years ago. And we were skeptical about having enough, but we have seen God’s hand in our finances when we give him our first fruits!! He is truly amazing. As you indicated we thought we would starve or not have enough for bills, but it is so not true. I was actually thinking the other day that we could probably increase our tithing percentage and still be fine. Why? Because we know the One who holds our future and He is GOOD!! Thank you for sharing. And I too am overjoyed you are back to writing!!

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