Monday, March 10, 2014

In This World

As for the poor... Well! You'd think they'd be honored to suffer as our Lord suffered... But Nooooo!! They want justice! They want equality! They want contraception!
It isn't enough that the church has secured their salvation in the next world. Now they want us to do something about their pathetic existence in this world!
- Ragmop
by Rob Walton

What is the purpose of the church? Is it saving souls for Christ? Or is it helping others, specifically the "least of these?" Are these mutually exclusive, or does the former necessitate the latter? That's not something a lot of people like to think about. That's not something I like to think about. I come from a background with a strong emphasis on evangelism. Saving souls is priority number one. Charity and giving were also stressed, but that was most often used to help the church and missionaries fulfill that primary goal.

This isn't necessarily bad, but to people suffering in the here and now, a hot meal is a lot more appreciated than hearing someone tell them, "Jesus loves you."

Jesus talked a lot about the poor and urged his followers to help those in need. The book of Luke reads like Jesus came to do two things: eat and help the poor.

In his book Why We Eat Our Own, Michael Cheshire explores some of the reasons people leave the church. "The vast majority of these Christians are leaving for two main reasons: First, and foremost, they are tired of being treated harshly by other Christians. Second, they feel the church has lost relevance to its community and to what they are going through in their everyday lives."* By loss of relevance, Cheshire doesn't mean the church is simply out of touch with popular movies and television, but that the idyllic world of American Christianity doesn't translate well to the trials and troubles of everyday life.

"First fact is that although our churches are missing the 20 and 30 year-old crowds, overall, volunteerism within that age group is actually climbing in this country. They are all about causes. They buy products that promote fair wages in obscure countries, and many of them live on less so they can help build wells in Africa. No, I'm sorry. They aren't selfish. They just needed a better cause than raising money to recarpet the foyer."** Many people aren't leaving the church to be corrupted by the world. They are leaving the church so they can do something better in the world.

That sounds harsh, doesn't it?

I work hard for my money. I am certain you do to. Sometimes I scrutinize long and hard before I make a purchase. I am certain you do too with some expenditures. Shouldn't we do the same when it comes to our tithes and offerings? Look at the preacher on TV that always asks for your money. What car does he drive? How big is his house? Odds are they are far grander than anything you or I will ever own. Maybe we should rethink sending him our money. Heck, maybe we should be the ones asking him for money!

*Kindle location 253
**Kindle location 781

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