By Dr. Bascom Ratliff
Pastor, Parker/Beagle/Fontana United Methodist Churches
I had a heated conversation the other day with a good friend about the power of money. He suggested that if God personally came by his home and asked for money he would gladly give God money. He would want some form of identification to prove that God was “really God” before he parted with his hard-earned cash. However, in the end he thought he would gladly give God money. After all, he thinks God is pretty powerful and it’s always best to be on God’s good side.
Unfortunately, God rarely announces himself in dramatic fashion to ask us for money.
Certainly, in the Bible there are a number of passages where God is asking for our love and commitment. And, because he is a loving God, he makes pretty good promises of great gifts in exchange for our service and commitment. He freely offers love, peace, joy, discipline, and other gifts. However, these are not hard currency or tangible in the same way that gold or silver are. In fact, sometimes I think we put little value on these non-tangible gifts. It’s nice to experience love, joy, and peace in our lives, but it’s not like these experiences or feelings are “hard currency”.
I also noticed that with the coming elections I am getting an abundance of requests for financial donations and votes. To date, I have yet to get a request for prayers or gentleness. Nope, it appears these marketeers and solicitors want my hard-earned cash.
I am dismayed that the church is often perceived in the same light as these solicitors for cash. Tune in to any televangelist and somewhere during the broadcast there will be requests for financial support. Read any Christian magazine and you will find a worthy, charitable organization that’s doing good things and desperately needs your financial support. In short, it seems that everybody needs your money and have no qualms about begging, pleading, or threatening you in order to get it. For example, I received the letter this past week suggesting that if I did not contribute money to this worthy cause, millions of immigrants would storm the border and thousands of unborn babies would be aborted. Of course, as a patriotic Christian, I think these issues are heart wrenching and absolutely should be addressed.
I am ashamed to admit that I have had so many requests for my support that I have become apathetic and resistant to the whole notion of contributing to worthy causes. It’s my hard-earned money and I want to keep as much of it as I can. I don’t trust the politicians, solicitors, or the televangelists with my money and I’m reluctant to support any of them.
However, the real dilemma for me is trusting God, trusting the church, and trusting my fellow Christians. Although I do not believe that God wants my/our money, I do believe the church needs funding to keep its doors open and its people served. People who work for God and the church should get paid. It costs money to “keep the lights on”.
My friend suggested that I might want to think of the Bible and the church as representatives of God. The Bible states the importance of our supporting God’s work. It’s also pretty clear that we are to love our neighbors and share with them God’s bounty and Word. The church, with many denominations, appears to be doing God’s will through the various ministries.
These ministries require funding. So maybe God doesn’t want our money but he appears to want us to do something that’s going to cost us money or time. We are obligated to do good works in the name of Jesus Christ. We may not think a sandwich or a blanket or a coat is that important. However, to someone is hungry, thirsty, or cold these items are a big deal. If we are to do God’s will in a meaningful way, it’s time we faced up to our responsibility to put our faith in action and do good works as servants of the Almighty
God may not want our money, but He clearly commands us to do good works and thoroughly use the wonderful gifts he has so freely given us.
If you want to hear more about God’s wonderful promise of unfailing love and enjoy a great morning of music and worship, come visit us at the Parker, Kansas United Methodist Church during September. We will worship at the Beagle UMC in October and the Fontana UMC in November. All services are at 10 a.m.. We’ll be sure to give you a warm welcome, a hot cup of coffee, and the best seats in the house. In keeping with Matthew 25, we will also provide you a box of food.