Thursday, August 21, 2008

Showing the Love of Christ to the World

[16:1] Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. [2] On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come. [3] And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem. [4] If it seems advisable that I should go also, they will accompany me. 1 Cor. 16:1-4 (ESV)

Paul now turns to more practical matters concerning his upcoming visit to Corinth. He is taking up a collection to bring to the saints in Jerusalem, who were stricken with poverty having forsaken everything, family, friends, possibly even employment for Christ. Not by their own choice, this was a cross laid on them on account of Christ. Becoming Christian they were ostracized by the community. Even today in some communities Christians know what this is like. They are baptized in the Christian faith, and their families abandon them. Their bosses find an excuse to fire them, or pass them over for promotion. Others do not hire them because they don’t belong to the local ward. It happens. But God never gives us more than we can handle.
Christians are bound together in Christ, so they take care of each other, even as they work for the well fare of non-Christians. We do not show the love of Christ, by forsaking those who do not believe. We are to love our enemies. We should be just as concerned about the welfare of the Muslim in our midst, as we are the Christian. This is one reason I have no qualms for participating in the fight against so called Christians committing mass genocide of Muslims in former Yugoslavia. Even knowing that most Muslims would be disinclined to do the same if the tables were turned. But this does not mean we should not be concerned about our fellow Christians around the world who are being persecuted by Muslim aggression in places like the Sudan. We need also take care of our own. We are one body. We commune with these Christians every Sunday as we all partake of one loaf, and one cup. So we should also support them in their work and in their plight.
Paul gives practical advise on how to do this. There is no command here to tithe, or go above and beyond tithing. Only to put aside each week as you have prospered. Give what you can, when you can each week, as you have prospered. That being said, I do believe that most Christians are very poor at doing this. Studies show that Christians give on average less than 2% of their income to the church and other charities. Most of us spend much more on dinners out, movies, television and other gadgets than we would ever consider putting in the offering plate. There is nothing wrong with these things in and of themselves. I myself spend money on these things. But we should really take and examine our income, to see what we can give to the church first. The souls of others do actually depend on it. It costs money to manage a church so people can hear the word of God. Pastors and missionaries need salaries so they can be available to their congregations and communities at large in times of distress, and so they can more properly devote themselves to prayer and the word, and yet still feed their families. Facilities have overhead, and often need improvements just as we remodel our homes. It costs money to do charity work in our own communities, and around the world. And through our offerings we show the love of Christ to all the world.

8 comments:

apollo819 said...

1Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. 1 Cor 11:1

Although I do not keep track of those who do not make a deposit in the collection plate, I do watch the faces of our "young" children as the plate is passed.

How important is it that the young see us put the envelope in the plate,(as we are not recognizing the gift that HE has given us), even if it is 2%?

Praise be to God

steve martin said...

My pastor says it will be the day when someone brings in a brand new flat screen to sell at our church rummage sale.

Usually it is just an opportunity for the congregation to get rid of their junk without having to take it to the dump. (not everyone, of course)
At the last rummage sale, I donated to the church a slightly used umbrella (with broken tines- that could be fixed by someone who is good at that kind of thing) In 1973 I paid good money ($7) for that thing. It warms my heart that someone else will have the chance to fix it and that the church might be able to sell it for $ 25 or $30. I love doing nice things for my church.

We certainly ought to think of the mission of the Church and give back of the gifts that God has given us...our money, our time, and whatever else there is of value.

It has been said that the posture of unbelief is the closed fist (won't let go)... and the posture of the believer is the open hand.

My He increase our belief, for the benefit of ourselves and others.

Bror Erickson said...

I think this is one of those areas that a Christian parent can really have a big influence on their children.

steve martin said...

That's 'May He'...not 'My He'

steve martin said...

In our congregation, the teachers at Sunday School give the kids their own envelopes, and they take a collection from the kids (pennies, dimes, rocks sometimes)

The kids love it. It is a building a great habit within them.

apollo819 said...

Thats great Steve..

I don't think it is "cliché'" to teach my 6 year old 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' "
Even in these hard times, our children need to know the Gift Christ has given us, and to appreciate not only the abundance of material things we have in this country, but the need for them to respect and appreciate the Loving Gift of "family, friends, and Church"!

steve martin said...

Apollo819,

You've got it! Amen!

When Christ grabs a hold of us, we can't help but give! (more or less)

Brigitte said...

Hi, I read some of your blog today and some of your blog list bloggers, as well. Some really thoughtful and articulate items out there. Very happy to see.

In terms of charity and giving, I think we may have to become much more flexible in our arrangements in the future. We have become all so accustomed to practically be able to do what we want when we want, go where we want, use automation instead of co-operation... We will need to share resources much more than in a long time. As churches we are uniquely situated to show how it is done.