I am sitting in the Dairy Queen in Lindale, TX. Why would anyone blog from a Dairy Queen you ask? Because it is the only wifi hotspot in the area. The Presley's have been on vacation for the past week, and it has been awesome. Our friends Ben and Robin Pasley came out for a visit as well, and we have just spent our time riding horses, fishing, swimming, and most importantly, resting! It has been awesome.
Ben is now chatting it up with a friend on Skype. It is a very detailed conversation. I am hearing words phrases like "Establishing a spiritual family that isn't completely dominated by the dad..." Oh, come on, we have to have our King. We have to have our President. We have to have our pastor! And we have to have our dad. All of these people have to run everything and they all have to be male...right? Right...of course not.
I love spending time with Ben and Robin because they help me see past the smog of this Christian culture in which I am steeped. You know I love the Church. Part of my calling requires that I engage this American Christian culture that thinks that the only authoritative, shepherding influence must come from the pulpit on Sunday morning, and sadly enough this has created a culture with no fathers, and so many orphans. I was part of an organization once where I began to feel like an orphan. I was beginning to feel like the pastor was trying to be a fathering influence on my family, and it simply wasn't working. When I brought that up, it seems that I pissed in every bowl of Cheerios in that fellowship, but they didn't understand, and in fact most don't understand.
I was thinking today about our commitment to God and His family. In the American church, it seems that we have taken the 10% model to serving God rather than the 100% that He asks for. We have seemingly taken the old testament concept of tithing, and because this American culture needs huge amounts of money to function and expand the parking lot, we have pulled a scripture completely out of context to make it work for our current paradigm. Now I see why that has been done. After all, everyone should be invested in their local fellowship, but 10% isn't a magic number in the least. In fact, Christ didn't ask his followers for 10%. He asked for 100%. So I was thinking about what that meant, especially in light of a drama that my fellowship put on a couple of weeks ago as it related to the guy who discovered treasure in a field, and gave up everything to possess it. I think that way too many Christians are in this thing for the benefits. Hey, my soul is saved, I can network my business, and feel that I am a good person. It's true, you can do that in the body of Christ, but far too few have truly counted the cost, including myself. We give only a small percentage to Christ. Not everything. We give our Sunday mornings, or maybe a mid week bible study. Maybe we give a morning quite time, but still that is far from all. We spend all of the rest of our time going out to make the money so that we can live this American dream. In truth though, if we are instructed to give all, the greatest evidence that we have deviated from that command as a Christian culture is how we spend our money. It is certainly ironic.
Here is what I mean. The current model states that we give 10% first, and then if there is any excess after we take care of ourselves, we ask God who where we can give that...or we buy that plasma tv. Most don't ask God at all how He thinks they should spend His money, because if we are truly giving everything, then God is not asking us to give $50 bucks to support a local missionary. Rather, we are asking Him to be our provision, and if we need a car, we ask, because the money to buy it doesn't belong to us. If we want to buy a home, we ask. If we want that plasma, we ask. That is what it means to have God be the Lord of our lives. Nothing is ours. All his His.
But this isn't the Gospel that we teach/preach/evangelize with. Rather, we tell others of the benefits. People come to know God to be saved from hell. It is as though Christianity is merely an accessory to our daily lives, rather than the driving force that influences our every decision, but the reality is that if we preach that we are all sinners in need of a savior only, then that is all that the majority get out of it, and they spend their lives making no difference in this fallen world. Is it possible that God only gives in proportion to what we give? Take the parable of the talents. One guy buried it. The other two doubled it, and gave it back to the landowner. They guy who buried it was rebuked, and cast out "where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Seriously, Jesus despised that guy. We have been given the gift of Salvation, and most believers have buried it. I just wonder how the Father feels about that one.
I love Switchfoot's song, American Dream. He says that he is tired of "Fighting for me." He says, "This isn't my American Dream. I want to live and die for bigger things." It is amazing to me how the Church has bought into this idea of the American Dream and ignored the dreams of the Father. We dream of the vacation home, retirement package, etc. God dreams about saving the babies out of the sex trade. He dreams about feeding those who can't feed themselves. He dreams about giving generations of enslaved people freedom though the power of the Gospel. I don't think that he is dreaming too much about our hedonistically focused approach to ministry. We spend the majority of our time giving ourselves comfortable worship environments and planning one off ministry endeavors that will make us feel like we have been about the great commission. Most fellowships spend the majority of the money that they receive on themselves, and excuse it by saying that if we get 16:9 projection, it will make us better at reaching out to those who are dieing without Christ. It's laughable really.
Meanwhile, all this expenditure doesn't fix this aching hole that so many believers sense that they are alone in this world. They are orphans without fathers, and although our heavenly Father is more than enough, He expresses that love and devotion through His family. I have been listening this week to what God is saying about my family. It isn't the same as yours. You can't have mine. I wonder if it can exist in the current CEO leadership model that has hijacked the American Church, or if it must exist more on the underground, with those who are truly seeking, who have counted the cost and given it all. I think that the latter is true, and only hope that the conviction of the Holy Spirit in my life spurs me on to increasing those percentages in my life that I have given to God.