Giving all of ourselves to our God, whom we call “Lord,” would include giving our everything. To me, my devotions would be my job, my girlfriend, my extended family, my friendships, my songwriting, my blog, my habits…everything. This would include my finances.
Of course, my devotion and dedication to God changes moment by moment, as we all have seen in our own lives, but my desire is to be 100% sacrificial with my life, for the sake of Jesus and His way of life. It’s my longing (usually, almost always) to give everything I have, own, and do to the cause and purposes of Jesus.
I do not go to a church, however…mostly by choice. I don’t see myself being involved with just one church, but more of a networker/discipler between believers from different churches (including the unchurched). Due to my circumstances, I’m held back from doing so, but it doesn’t mean I haven’t started to prepare for Cyndi and my house group, hosting parties and sleepovers at our home, or an online community, not unlike the blog that I keep.
Even though I do not attend a “traditional” church, which is usually a meeting that looks nothing like what I believe that Jesus had intended, I do contribute to parachurch organizations, international relief ministries, friends going on mission trips, and to the local homeless people looking for a meal.
“But that’s not to your local, community church,” some would often say.
First, let me assure you that I’m not one of those postmodern believers that use the emerging church, Gen-Y excuses to avoid furthering the Kingdom of Heaven, neglecting spiritual responsibilities. Everything, if I’m interpreting Scripture right, is God’s; He’s entrusted me with what I have. How I use/give what I have reflects my motivations.
A little theology: Tithing in Malachi is the Old Covenant. The 10% thing is overshadowed by the cross. Paul writes that for those who wish to keep a section/fragment of the Written Law is then required to keep all of it (including the sacrifices and stonings in the Torah, if I’m interpreting Scripture right).
Okay, what does the New Covenant say about tithing? Acts 2 says that in the stated community of believers, they sold all that they had, so that what they had could be distributed among themselves. Perhaps, things were different in other underground, house/city churches, but I assume that they did things quite similar in order to just survive and thrive. It was a matter of practicality and simplicity. And Scripture says no one was in need; nobody did without.
Simplicity. Generosity. These are characteristics of a compassionate believer. Mercy towards the needy, justice toward the broken. These are marks of a Christlike servant. How I treat the needy, broken, incarcerated, homeless, fatherless, persecuted, single mom, infected, etc. is how I’m subsequently treating Jesus. These are the ones He cares for and has a special place in His heart (if I’m reading Scripture as it should be read), and neglecting these people with my finances would be like neglecting Jesus’ needs.
If the “local, community church” is having a hard time finding the time or budgets to do these deeds of caring for the needy, broken & forgotten, then I have to either find groups or people that are, or step out into the real world and give to these people myself.
I believe it’s my responsibility to see to it that the money that’s been entrusted to me is a blessing to others, advancing a Kingdom of love, simplicity, practicality, compassion and sacrifice. If that means that the “local, community church” will not receive my “tithe,” then so be it. I’m sure these churches have well-meaning pastors, attendees and routines, and I’m sure God’s interests are their desire, but I believe these rituals, traditions and habits need to be rethought.
Showing love through my finances is important to me, even to the point of being un-traditional.