From the Pastor’s Desk:
February 23, 2020
“Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” II Corinthians 9:7
Money is an uncomfortable subject for a lot of us, especially for people in the church. As a pastor, sermons concerning financial giving are some of the most difficult to write, possibly because so many people have the perception that the church always wants their money! No matter what, money is hard to talk about, primarily because we are so conflicted about it.
As good Americans living in America, we are raised to be capitalists. We believe that when we spend our time working, the money we get in return is ours. We did the work to earn it, after all, and we should be able to do with it as we please. From an American Capitalist consumer driven perspective, that is only logical and fair.
As followers of Jesus, though, we are actually taught something much different. We are taught that everything, from the breath in our lungs to the money in our bank accounts, all of it is a gift from God. We are not given these gifts merely to survive or to indulge ourselves, but to help build the kingdom of God. God told Abraham that he would be blessed so that he could be a blessing, and those words extend to us as well.
That acknowledgement flies in the face of capitalism that says, “Its MINE. I earned it.” As a result, we are conflicted. One part of our psyche tells us to keep what is ours and let others fend for themselves, and another tells us that all we have is a blessing and blessings are to be shared.
This is where the proverbial rubber meets the road in our Christian life. This is where we have to make a decision about who we are, first and foremost. Are we American Capitalist Consumers, or are we followers of Jesus Christ? Do we respond to the living, breathing Word of God by dropping a couple of dollars in the plate, whatever we have left at the end of the week, or are we intentional about giving towards the building of God’s Kingdom?
There are two halves to our worship services: the presentation of the Word and the response to the Word. They come before and after the sermon respectively. After the sermon, after hearing God's promises in scripture and in the message, we have the opportunity to respond. We affirm our faith together in a creed. We declare our belief in response to the Word. And then we are given an opportunity to give financially in response to the Word, to acknowledge in a visible and tangible way that all we have is a gift from God, and as we have been blessed, so we will return part of that blessing.
We do not do this because of obligation but out of joy for having received the blessing in the first place (which is against our capitalist nature!). But God’s promise to us is not if we share our blessings, what we give will disappear and we will be left lacking, but rather the blessings will go out and be multiplied, blessing others, and we will be blessed in return. Perhaps that blessing won’t be more money, but we all know there are greater blessings than cash. God's blessings bear fruit in many ways, when we have the courage to loosen our grip and share what we have.
Blessed to be a blessing,Pastor Mike
Don’t forget to check out the “Grace Cubed” podcast wherever you get your podcasts, or go to www.anchor.fm/gracecubed
Cherry Hill United Methodist Church