My husband and I walk hand-in-hand toward the church doors. Three boys race past. Moms and dads with babies in arms chatter to one another. There are grey-haired ones and young newly-weds. We all make our way up the path and through the doors of the church.
I love the Church – this group organically grown by God and set on a mission. This messy movement to which I belong called The Church has captured my heart.
I particularly love the local church. Not the one where I am a part (although I do love that one) but the concept of a local church.
All over the world there are pockets of people who dress weirdly in the same way, speak a language in a similar manner, have strange ceremonies that everybody gets, laugh at what seems to outsiders to be not-so-funny jokes and behave in incomprehensible ways that are familiar and comforting to them. Despite these cultural idiosyncrasies, the local church finds a way around them and continues to help people follow Jesus.
I’m often asked whether giving a tenth of our income to God holds true for modern day Christians. I’m also asked whether that ten percent should all go to the local church or if some of it can go to other Christ serving non-profit ministries.
I understand that giving away hard earned money can be difficult. Human nature seems to want to hold on to as much as we can but those of us who form The Church know that the bible teaches us to give. So we start asking “How much?” and “Who gets it?”
Giving is not a burden. Or a debt we owe or worse, a church tax. (Lord knows we will find every loophole to not pay more tax.) Giving is a way of life to which God invites us; a way to be more like him.
When I think of those three boys who came scuttling past us as we entered church, or the baby in arms, or the orphaned child in an African village, then giving is absolutely not a tax, a command nor a theology to be debated.
I give because I know that lives will be changed. I give because a young boy will be awed by the ancient stories of God and His glory. I give because an elderly man will learn how to take comfort in Jesus as he misses his wife of many years, now gone. I give because a child in poverty will be fed and be warm. I give because a vulnerable college kid will be accepted and loved by a campus ministry. I give because my pastor spends many hours refining his sermon so that I can easily understand the grace of God. I give so that he can take joy in providing for his family. I give so that those who work in non-profits can do so with dignity and with peace. I give because my giving trickles down and joins up with your giving and before we know it, five thousand have been fed and there are baskets of fish and loaves left over for another day.
The truth is that I give because it is a privilege to give.
The truth is that I give more than I can possibly afford and I am truly grateful that I do.
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” – 2 Corinthians 9:7