Recently at Elevenses we sung a great old Kids Song which says: “I’m special because God has loved me, for he gave the best thing that he had to save me, his own Son Jesus, Crucified for all the wrong things I have done, thank you Jesus, thank you Lord, I know I don’t deserve anything, help me feel your love right now, to know deep in my heart that I’m your special friend”.
We serve a God who is extravagantly generous, a God who knows who give sacrificially that which is costly.
As I let these simple words speak to my Soul, I wondered what my response should be, and I was drawn to the lyrics of an old Hymn: “were the whole realm of nature mine, that was an offering far too small, love so amazing, so divine, demands my life, my Soul, my all”.
This struck me as a fitting start to a message about giving.
It’s not about guilt tripping people by reminding us of how expensive our buildings are to maintain and to heat (which is probably more than you imagine), but rather thinking about whole life discipleship, giving all that we are, our talents, skills, abilities, relationships, time, energy and money for the glory of Christ (which of course includes stewarding what he has entrusted us with faithfully).
It all belongs to him anyway.
We say together before we take communion “all things come from you, and of your own do we give you”.
When we take communion we approach God with open but empty hand.
The call is to allow Christ to be Lord of all, in fact there is saying that ‘if Christ isn’t Lord of all, it he Lord at all?’
As we think in this letter about our giving, its not primarily all about “rattling the tin” but rather a call for us as the family of Christ called to this area to seek first his Kingdom.
Highway man Dick Turpin used to say “Your money or your life”. Jesus does not let us of do easily he says Both, he wants your heart and then everything else follows
Yet the principal of sacrificial giving isn’t just something we talk about when faced with a large bill, or a crisis, in fact whether or not we need money I would like us all to think about how our faith impacts how we spend our money.
Two quotes profoundly challenged me in my Christian journey were:
“would my bank manager know I was a Christian by glancing at my bank statement?”
“every pound you spend is a vote for the kind of world you want to see, is it a world that reflects Christ’s big idea of the Kingdom of God?”
I want to be an ethical consumer, investing in justice and not exploitation.
I want to use my resources wisely and righteously for the glory of Christ a Jesus and the advance of his wonderful Kingdom.
This is a question all of us as part of the Church family need to constantly be asking of our life together: Are we using our resources to their full potential?
Are we seeking the advancement of God’s Kingdom by the blessing of our local community, being glory to Jesus, bringing and being good news to the suffering, hurting, marginalized and disenfranchised?
What would Jesus say if he was setting our budgets, both our personal budgets and our corporate budgets as Church?
Would he say: “well done good and faithful servant” or would he be flipping over chairs and tables?