Saturday, February 25, 2012

God has given us enormously much money.

Those words are not mine but were penned by F. Sievers in 1893 and written during a time of economic doldrums in an article to encourage foreign missions.  Although there are many good things in the article that I could and probably should commend to you, I was most struck by this sentence.  God has given us enormously much money.

We may lack for many things in the Church today but money is certainly not one of them.  We live in a time of great wealth -- both in terms of income and assets.  We are rich beyond estimation.  The only problem is that our resolve is not nearly as great as our wealth.  We act more in fear than in confidence.  We act more to express our pleasure or our displeasure than sacrificially or faithfully as God has given us.

We clearly do not have a money problem -- we have a faith problem.  If our parishes are suffering or our Districts in financial need or our Synod lacking the resources to do God's bidding, it is most certainly NOT because we lack the resources.  We lack the will, the courage, and the desire.  We look for reasons to distrust and for justification for keeping it here at home rather than supporting the work of the kingdom elsewhere.  We foolishly believe that all structures in the Church are wasteful, that all church leaders are blood sucking bureaucrats, and that unless we control where it is spend, our money is ill spent.  I know I am treading on toes here but sometimes we must face the painful truth.

I am not here to suggest that Synod, district or parish have always acted wisely or that we could not do better.  I confess that none of us has not been as wise as serpents or as shrewd as worldly stewards in the choices we have made and the allocation of the resources entrusted to us.  What I challenge is the way we use this to justify withholding resources that belong to God and are given us to manage for His kingdom.

The old joke tells of the Pastor who preaches to his people the good news that we have all the money we need for the building program [or whatever] and that the only bad news is that it is still in their pockets.  The great need of the day is not money.  God has given us enormously much money.  The real problem that afflicts us today is trust, confidence, and faith.  We do not trust God nor do we trust one another.  We do not have confidence that we can live without the things we call our own and we do not have confidence in the structures of the church.  We do not have faith that God will supply all our needs or that others may know more or make at least as faithful choices as we would make in their positions of authority.  We don't give till it hurts; it hurts us too much to give.  I confess this for me first.  If anyone wants to join me in this mea culpa, I will not stop you.

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