Thursday, April 14, 2016

Why isn't that Christian Giving to the Poor?

There is a wrong reaction that too many people, believers and unbelievers alike, have to the spiritual disciplines of Christians. Someone prays a lot, reads the Bible a lot, or memorizes scripture, and so people, fueled by jealousy and conviction, say "why don't they go serve the poor!?" Yet if the same Christian spent their free time watching Netflix, they'd have no complaints! Why is this?

I think the Bible has an answer, because Judas had the same complaint about a Christian. When someone wanted to honor and serve Christ Himself with a perfume to make him smell good in a time when people didn't smell so good in general, Judas asked this, "Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year's wages." Wow Judas, you're so spiritual! You care about the poor so much! Well, maybe he did care about the poor a bit, but the next scripture says he asked this because he used to grab some extra money for himself in the coin box. Not only did he want money, but he couldn't understand the affection and love for God that drives people to give directly to Him, in our case to give time to pray and read the Bible consistently! This gets to the heart of things, because most of the time people's problem with a Christian being holy just points to a lack of holiness in the people themselves. Maybe there is a bit of concern for the poor there, but the way they use money themselves is for mainly selfish things anyway. We ought to examine ourselves if we are looking for an area where they are less holy, because that could be a sign of jealousy or some other sin.

Please don't misunderstand my point though, because a true Christian practices all spiritual disciplines, including serving the poor with their time and/or money. One really good organization I can recommend is run by a brother I know who will not misuse funds. So I'd encourage you to check out Thirsty Ground International if you want to help a Christian in the Middle East serving Syrian refugees with the Gospel and physical needs.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Has Your Soul Ever Felt Tormented?

Mine has.  Maybe you and I are unique in this.  It's possible we've suffered feelings of despair the average Christian never really encounters.  It is possible, but not likely.

We tend to think more highly of our own trials than we do of those of others. We cast ourselves as the maligned and mistreated protagonist, worthy of pity and honor for what we've had to endure.  Whether we are agonizing to find a spouse, discouraged by the same besetting sin that has plagued us for years, or afflicted with chronic physical pain, it just feels like other Christians have it easier than we do.

Be careful with this kind of prideful thinking.  It has an isolating effect; keeping us from loving each other, and making us easy prey for the devil.  Paul encourages the church in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man."  Statistically and biblically speaking, most of us are average.  That's not to say we haven't faced intense struggles, but that the intensity of our struggles should inform us as to what the rest of the body had to overcome in order to make it to church today.

As we fellowship, let's assume the brother we shake hands with, or the sister we awkwardly side-hug, has had to press through hard trials and resist every effort of the devil, just as we have.  This should remind us to encourage, give grace to, and boast in each other.