A Response to “Funding Fears” (an article in Worldmag.com)

Posted: Nov 19, 2008 in Meaningless, Nationalistic Pride, Opinions, Rants, Tangents, Thoughts

Funding Fears

From: Worldmag.com, “Obama,” November 15, 2008

Will the nation’s economic storm zap U.S. charities? While the data won’t be in until well after the holiday giving season, the nation’s nonprofits are already bracing for a blow.

World Vision’s Phillipe Guiton, for example, said his group plans to trim hiring, a move that will likely affect the delivery of overseas aid. “What we are going to do now is to issue an order to reduce spending, to delay recruitment, delay purchases of capital assets, etc., until we can see clearer how much our income has dropped,” Guiton said

Other groups, such as Catholic Relief Services and CARE International, say they’re watching to see whether major donors will recover from portfolio shock in time to continue year-end giving at previous levels

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

As I read this the words that came to mind were from the Kingdom Prayer (aka. The Lord’s Prayer). “Give us this day our daily bread.” We pray this prayer out of the surplus of our lives. Granted we spend on borrowed money, we often partake in bread bought at a high interest rate but we also play hard and collect toys that are so far superfluous. Though spending may go down this holiday, it is highly unlikely that we will stop to consider if God’s provision really intended we buy the Nintendo Wii go along with our PS3, or to replace our 2006 model Chevy pickup truck with a 2009 because of all the good deals (Here’s a shout out to all my car dealer brothers and sisters in Christ who readily demystify these bogus incentives), or a new doll to sit next to the other five dolls that sit in our daughter’s closet. At the risk of an overgeneralization, it is difficult to imagine that out of the great generosity of God that we operate in this American culture, that we could even consider giving up our contributions that go to aid the poor, the hungry, the widow, the prisoner, etc. OR hold back on our giving in order to protect our own skin as though we have ever had control over this in the history of the world.

In Acts, one of the most challenging stories for us “New Testament Christians” (whatever that means) is the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. The story goes like this. This is after Pentecost and the outpouring of Spirit, over 3000 people were saved and daily people were selling everything they had and giving to those who had need. To be sure, radical at best. Enter Ananias and Sapphira.

But a man named Ananias, with the consent of his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property;  2 with his wife’s knowledge, he kept back some of the proceeds, and brought only a part and laid it at the apostles’ feet.  3 “Ananias,” Peter asked, “why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the proceeds of the land?  4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, were not the proceeds at your disposal? How is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You did not lie to us but to God!”  5 Now when Ananias heard these words, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard of it.  6 The young men came and wrapped up his body, then carried him out and buried him.

After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened.  8 Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you and your husband sold the land for such and such a price.” And she said, “Yes, that was the price.”  9 Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.”  10 Immediately she fell down at his feet and died. When the young men came in they found her dead, so they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.  11 And great fear seized the whole church and all who heard of these things. –Acts 5.1-11

Now, I don’t know about you but this story seems out of character for our New Testament God who is supposedly more loving than our Old Testament God (a notion that I do not believe to say the least, he is always loving). Surely he understands that this is a new movement of Christ followers. They are babes, just learning the ropes and yet, cold, stiff reality presents itself in the immediacy of death. Following Christ is serious business. To deceive the Spirit of God is to find ourselves dead and no longer a liability for the community of believers. We learn that living a life that seeks to keep back those things that never belonged to us in the first place is a dangerous place for us to wind up. Imagine God delivering Israel from the hands of the Egyptians and each Israelite wishing to hold onto the challenging past decides to bring on giant brick with them for the journey into the desert. Something to remember their former life by.

You see, God doesn’t deliver us in part, he delivers us in whole OR he does not deliver us at all. Not his choice but ours. When we cry to God to be delivered from our oppressive state, he is coming to wipe the slate of our lives clean. He doesn’t want us to hold onto our old habits; faith in what we have done, our addictions, our families, our luxurious lifestyle or our selfish ambitions. He has more than we could have imagined planned for our lives.

God does not want us to remember where we were, he wants us to remember the journey of where he brought us from and where he is taking us. So along the way, he calls us to raise up stones but to leave those stones behind, if ever we pass by that place again. They are both memorials and warnings of God’s faithfulness to his promises. To be sure, entering the desert is a painful, hot and seemingly gruesome idea for most of us BUT even the world prophetically tells us, “No pain, No gain.”

What does this mean for us? It means its time for us to move beyond what we think we have done. To let go of those things that tie us to our own efforts, our own salvation as though we can somehow be the savior of our own lives. It calls us to no longer love our neighbor for the toys they have and to no longer hate them for the ones that we don’t but instead to throw it all into the pot of caring for all who have need.

The challenge is this. Have faith. This year, instead of running scared as we watch our 401K’s deplete, as we see our home values go down or as we lose our jobs, which to this point have been so secure (???). Let’s not seek to depend on ourselves but let us who follow Christ give ourselves over to his deliverance. For he cannot deliver us unless we trust that he is the Great Provider. I leave you with two passages for your consideration.

Will anyone rob God? Yet you are robbing me! But you say, “How are we robbing you?” In your tithes and offerings!  You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me—the whole nation of you!  Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and thus put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing.  I will rebuke the locust for you, so that it will not destroy the produce of your soil; and your vine in the field shall not be barren, says the LORD of hosts.  Then all nations will count you happy, for you will be a land of delight, says the LORD of hosts. right.”

– Malachai 3.8-12

AND

Hear, O Israel: The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.  You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.  Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart.  Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.  Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead,  and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
When the LORD your God has brought you into the land that he swore to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—a land with fine, large cities that you did not build,  houses filled with all sorts of goods that you did not fill, hewn cisterns that you did not hew, vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant—and when you have eaten your fill,  take care that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.  The LORD your God you shall fear; him you shall serve, and by his name alone you shall swear.  Do not follow other gods, any of the gods of the peoples who are all around you,  because the LORD your God, who is present with you, is a jealous God. The anger of the LORD your God would be kindled against you and he would destroy you from the face of the earth.
Do not put the LORD your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah.  You must diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your God, and his decrees, and his statutes that he has commanded you.  Do what is right and good in the sight of the LORD, so that it may go well with you, and so that you may go in and occupy the good land that the LORD swore to your ancestors to give you,  thrusting out all your enemies from before you, as the LORD has promised.
When your children ask you in time to come, “What is the meaning of the decrees and the statutes and the ordinances that the LORD our God has commanded you?”  then you shall say to your children, “We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt, but the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.  The LORD displayed before our eyes great and awesome signs and wonders against Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his household.  He brought us out from there in order to bring us in, to give us the land that he promised on oath to our ancestors.  Then the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our lasting good, so as to keep us alive, as is now the case.  If we diligently observe this entire commandment before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us, we will be in the right.”

– Deuteronomy 6

The grace, mercy and peace of God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord be with you all.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: