Thursday, October 2, 2008

Giving as Confession

2 Cor. 9:10-15 (ESV)
He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. [11] You will be enriched in every way for all your generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. [12] For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. [13] By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, [14] while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. [15] Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!

Paul draws his discourse on giving to a close, with some especially poignant points. I am especially intrigued here by the way he links giving and confession of the faith together. Perhaps this is why the offering follows the creed in our liturgy. We confess our faith and that we support that confession with our gifts. In actuality this makes sense across the board, even in secular causes. We donate money to causes we agree with, to institutions that seek to preserve those things we care about. NRA members give to the NRA because they want to preserve their right to bear arms. They don’t contribute to organizations that support gun control. PETA members do not contribute money to Ducks Unlimited. The lines seem to be clearer though in the secular world. In the church people find themselves donating to institutions that don’t support their beliefs all the time. I think about the faithful Christians in the ELCA. There are many in this church body that are truly troubled by what they see happening within this institution. They don’t agree with many of the corrosive statements and practices flowing out of the conventions. These are corrosive in that they undermine the Biblical message, and ultimately undermine the Gospel. Things like female ordination, the blessings of homosexual marriages, etc. Yet they stay in the church. I don’t know that I blame them. It is hard to give up on the church your parents and grandparents started. The church within which you were baptized. The church within which you have made lasting friendships and so on. And truth be told I even know great and faithful pastors who preach good law/Gospel sermons, and genuinely feed their sheep with the word of God, who for one reason or another are still in the ELCA. But as long as they remain in the ELCA they are supporting causes with which they don’t agree with their contributions. That is a hard thing. Of course there are things going on in the LCMS with which I don’t agree. Perhaps that is why the Synod is in so much financial trouble. Almost every day I come across another appeal for funds. The synod and different organizations are constantly plaguing my members with these same appeals. It is disgusting. Perhaps if the LCMS would right its course, return to its roots, people would start giving again. The Synod though seems to have become money hungry, and the message seems to be lost. We aren’t supporting the education of pastors, we aren’t supporting Lutheran publications. We are yanking missionaries from foreign fields. We shut down our most popular radio programs, programs that are popular because they are disseminating Lutheran Doctrine. And the people are beginning to ask; ”What are we supporting?” Administration is needed in a church body, no doubt, but what is it administrating anymore? Is the administration supporting the work of the Gospel or is it hindering it? This is the question on the minds of many. It seems in many cases we have administration for the sake of administration. Let’s return to our roots and stop being ashamed of our Lutheran heritage, which is the gospel. Then maybe we won’t have such financial trouble.

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