Monday, October 28, 2013

The Islamic Dollar

I am not sure where I read it but the gist of the quote was that Muslims give to their faith more money than all the other religions of England put together.  The point of comparison here was not the size of the Muslim community but the giving of Muslims to the causes they esteem holy.  In contrast, giving from Christians has not kept up and, in many places, declined.  I do not mean to say that Christians are not generous but they are certainly not as generous as Muslims in their support of their faith.

Christians have for a long time cultivated an image of generosity.  In many ways it is a legitimate claim.  Christians are very generous for the causes of goodness and love.  They can be very generous in the support of their churches as well, though not always so.  Often Christians substitute the causes of mercy for the cause of truth, giving to church agencies in support of the noble work of the poor, the sick, and the oppressed while less generous with the work of their church. 

I write today because the cause of the Gospel and the church deserve more than what we have given.  We act as if we are doing the Lord a big favor when we give but the truth is we expect a great deal in return for those contributions.  The sad reality is that the majority of dollars spent by churches go for the creature comforts of their members -- from buildings to comfortable heat and air conditioning to easy parking to amenities from rest rooms to coffee bars to educational endeavors to community rooms.  Take away the money spent on our facilities and the comfort and needs of our members and how much of the many dollars that we give are left?

Sadly, few dollars are spent in worship, the fount from which all that we do as church and as Christians flow.  We look for musicians on the cheap and act as if a once in a generation cost of hymnals is all that should be spent for the chief activity of the church -- gathering the people of God around the Word and Table of the Lord.  Even more sadly, few dollars are spent in mission.  We can find every cause to do things at home but sit glassy eyed when confronted with the opportunities to do the work of the Kingdom beyond our local area.

I am not suggesting that we should abandon our buildings or make them less comfortable.  What is needed is the renewed fervor of a people who know the Lord's generosity and who take up the cause of His kingdom with excitement, enthusiasm, and exuberance.  What does it say of the way we have received grace as gift and blessing in Christ when a religion of law like Islam moves people to greater generosity and selfless service for the sake of their faith?

It is not a competition... but it could be a wake up call.  In many and various ways the Word and saving work of Christ are made known to us and can be made known through us to others.  But we cannot afford to become complacent with the gifts of God nor cavalier to the impact of generosity.  With what generosity has the Lord shown us His favor in Christ... how can we keep from being generous in return?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

To me there are several factors at work, both cultural and theological, but in my own case I also found that I had never been instructed about what God's Word teaches about Christian stewardship of our money.