Everyone wants the Church to be involved with helping people. Christians often realize that they and their church should do more. Non-Christians use lack of ministry as reasons to attack the Church. Everyone thinks the Church should be involved in ministry. There is a problem, though. People who understand the idea of ministry know that you spell it “M-O-N-E-Y.” So, when people talk about the Church doing ministry and the pastor responds with the proof that “we need money to do that,” people then complain that all the Church does is ask for money.
Perhaps the best example of our attitude toward money and the church is a comedy by Flip Wilson as the Reverend Leroy. He talked about the church making progress and that it needed to begin by crawling. The congregation responded with “Let it crawl, rev, let it crawl.” Then the church needs to walk. “Let it walk, rev, let it walk.” Then the church needs to run. “Let it run, rev, let it run.” In order for it to run, the church needs money. After a pause the congregation shouted “let it crawl, rev, let it crawl.” As Paul dealt with the Church in Corinth he reminded them that not everyone had that problem by reminding them of the Church of Macedonia. “For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people.” (2 Corinthians 8:3-4)
The Church of Macedonia understood the importance of material goods. Even in extreme poverty they gave far more than their ability because their material goods were given to them by God to advance the Kingdom of God. It’s a sad truth that this attitude doesn’t prevail in the United States, one of the richest countries of all time. We seem to think that we have material goods solely for pleasure and that if we happen to give anything away, we expect a lot of credit. We don’t give God the credit of providing them and we don’t see a responsibility to give to help others. We look down on people in need, expect the government to help them, and then complain about how the government helps them when they tax us to do that. Wouldn’t it be better if we recognized from the start that God has given us great wealth so that we could help others?
Paul reminded the Corinthians about the Macedonians because it seemed like the Corinthian Church had been outspoken about helping, but lagging in the collection to help the saints. They key to Paul’s plea to them was that we help others because the goal in the church is equality. There is a lot to be said for that. We help others when we have plenty knowing that others will help us when we have need. We help each other. We don’t depend on others to do what God has called us to do. Most of us in the Church in America have been blessed far beyond our needs. If we understand that our blessings come from God so that we can share material goods and the gospel with those in need, it should be easy to give. As you prepare for your next worship service, prepare for the time the offering plate will be passed. Ask God if you can give a little more than you normally do. You can either help the church run to ministry, or you can force it to crawl. I choose to help the church run.
Lord, I have been blessed far beyond what I deserve. Help me to be willing to give. Help me to have the faith to give beyond what I’ve been doing. Use what I have for Your kingdom.