Monthly Archives: May 2013

“Sacrificial” giving of money; not biblical for the church…

Over and over I’ve heard preachers try to teach about “sacrificial” giving.  Unfortunately that is not a biblical principle, since the word sacrifice is very specific in scripture, and is abused in this context.  Now, before some readers get their knickers all in a twist, let me clarify; free will giving is biblical, and we’ll talk about that, but this idea of sacrificial giving is another offhanded term that does not appear in scripture.

“You’ve got to give until it hurts,” that is the refrain that you can hear from many pulpits both in person and on the radio.  No, you don’t.  The idea of a sacrifice is glossed over when the term is used in connection with monetary giving.  A sacrifice in the bible is very very specific; it is about killing and offering up an organism to God. Sacrifice was to do many things, one of which was to remind us that for sin comes death.

To underscore this, notice what Paul said, “present yourselves a living sacrifice to God.”  He had to include and underscore the word “living” there; no longer do we offer sacrifice to God in the old way of death, but rather we are living organisms and we offer ourselves.  This is only possible because Jesus became a sacrifice for us, and now, that older system is done away with.

Giving money is not technically sacrificial.  You aren’t ritually killing anything.  We muddy the waters of the gospel by referring to a free will gift offering as sacrificial giving.  We are indeed to give money as directed by the Holy Spirit, and we are to do so cheerfully.  The term “sacrificial giving” is apparently another dysphemism adopted by teachers and preachers to try to lay a charge upon believers that just is not there.

The once and for all sacrifice is done, I don’t have to sacrifice “things” or “animals” anymore, but rather I’m to realize that all I have and all I am is God’s to do with as He please.  Then, it is a matter of being smart with my money, compassionate with my money, and generous with my money (and time, possessions, land, etc…) because they are His, not mine.  He promises to guide us, and we are expected to yield because we trust Him.  That’s faith.

 

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Leadership; Nonbelievers just don’t understand…

Every now and again I’m reminded of one of the reasons why true believers are so loyal and fixed on Jesus.  Have you ever noticed that there are some people that are so honorable, smart, charismatic, and loyal that others go into orbit around them.  They function as true north, and everyone else is a compass needle.  There are real life examples of this, George Washington was once such human.

There are also fictional characters that function the same way, the most recent example I can think of is Gibbs on NCIS.  Characters like him are so popular because we humans seem to be made to follow courage, justice, caring, etc… People who display these characteristics tend to attract followers who are willing to follow them anywhere.

This can also be a bad thing when people follow charisma simply because they cannot seem to determine their own lives.  They want someone to tell them specifically what to do and when to do it, as well as what to believe.  That is what happens when a cult springs up.  Following a good person is beneficial, following a bad person is detrimental.

What does this have to do with Christianity?  We are so drawn to Jesus because in Him is all goodness and none of the imperfection that brings detriment.  In Jesus we have a human, that because He is also God, is totally righteous, just, loving, merciful, brilliant, honest, loyal, etc… In Him we have a leader that we can totally trust 100% of the time because He has proven Himself in ways that everyone alive can still check out.

We follow Him and love Him because He is Truth itself, He is the Way, the only proper Way, of having a correct worldview.  He loved us so much that He did and does not lead from behind; instead, He paved the way for us giving His life, health, and very self for us, to fix our mess and to forgive our sin.  Why do we love Him and defend Him?  Amongst many reasons, it is because we are grateful to have a leader such as Him.  And, unlike false leaders, He gives us absolute and total freedom.

He teaches us what is best for humans; to forgive, to love, to serve, to hope, to be courageous and strong, to stand up for those that cannot stand up for themselves.  While He is our leader, He teaches us self-responsibility, how to think for ourselves, and how to care for our enemies.  Nonbelievers cannot grasp this idea, they are intent on either following themselves, or other flawed humans.  That is the problem with any other form of idolatry; you are not following the correct leader.  Do you worship money, fame, self, nature, other gods, philosophies?  Then you are not following truth, and it will be to your detriment.

One of the great paradoxes of Christianity is the idea of becoming a slave to Jesus, and that makes you completely free.  A true leader does not try to exert forced control, or tell followers to shut off their brains.  Jesus asks us to freely choose, and enables our choice.  If we do freely choose Him, He then sets us totally free from both sin and the confines of the law, and in effect, He allows us to make all of our own choices in life, while at the same time promising to guide us and guard us if we will heed His voice.  We are painted as sheep; however, it is sheep with no fences but rather a loving and powerful shepherd that tends to His flock.

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