Thursday, October 20, 2005

1 Corinthians 16:1-9

Wow! What a change up! Paul goes from talking about the resurrection of Jesus and its implications for us straight to talking about money. Seems a little abrupt, doesn’t it?

But maybe it’s not. The thrust of chapter 15—that we too will be raised from the dead just as Jesus was-- has been to move us from what is temporary to what is eternal; from what is perishable to that which is imperishable; from a materialistic way of life to living spiritually.

In that context, the practice of giving away our money makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? It helps make sure that our focus is in the right place; that we aren’t becoming too attached to things material and so choking out the life of faith.

I notice a few things about giving from this passage: it is to be a regular discipline; the money is to be given in faith at the beginning of the week, not out of what (if any) might be left when the week is done; and we are to give in accord with our income (the Message rightly catches the meaning of this in translating it, Be as generous as you can).

I figure people who are taking the time and trouble to read this are probably pretty serious about their spiritual life. God bless you in that. Will you allow me to be radical for a moment?

As I understand it, the ultimate guide in giving for Christians isn’t the tithe; it’s the life and teaching of Jesus Christ. So the real question—and I’ve admitted up front I’m being radical here, that I may well have gone off the deep end, and what I now write may be utter foolishness—but the real question isn’t “Have I given my 10%” and so am free (entitled?) to enjoy the rest as I see fit, but “Would Jesus acquire like I’ve acquired; would Jesus use his money like I use my money; would he own the things I own; would he…?” well, you get the picture.

I’ll be the first to admit those are hard questions to ask. I am not entirely comfortable asking them even of myself let alone suggesting them for others. But if we did ask them, friends…if we did…might our world look more like the Kingdom Jesus died to create?

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