There’s a captivating statue in Boys Town, founded in 1917 for homeless and abandoned boys, of a young man carrying a little boy piggyback. The caption reads, “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.”
Siblings have a love and trust for each other that rise above that for others. This special bond is one of God’s essentials for making a family a family.
Because trust goes deep, when it is betrayed the pain is acute. The scar from sibling betrayal could be lifetime, the damage irreparable.
In Christ’s church we are true brothers and sisters, all adopted by God through His Son Jesus, all washed in the same Blood, our names written in the “Book of life”, all headed for the same place. We have a trust for each other far beyond the trust we have for outsiders and the trust outsiders have for each other.
When that trust is betrayed, the pain is acute.
We don’t break trust with each other when we serve the same Lord, when sensitive to the same Spirit. But when one trades lordship, disposing Christ from the throne of his life to seat another lord – this being quite common – there is strife and betrayal in His family.
Broken trust frequently occurs at collection time though, incredibly and perhaps thankfully, few seem to see it for what it is.
At conferences (and such) the one most successful in prying money from his brothers and sisters is often selected to take the offering. This person may have a crusty heart, willing to stretch and twist and finagle The Word to make it compatible to their ambitions, the end justifying the means.
At one conference, the story goes, the audience was asked to remove all change from their pockets. And then they were instructed to throw all their change to the floor, a tip for the clean-up people. Everyone laughed as the coins hit the carpet. And then began the real collection – no change, just bills and checks. A very successful collection.
Christians can be creative, and their skills are often used to extract money from a suspicious and reluctant audience. Tears, jokes, stories, embellished needs, testimonies, reprimands, pleas, songs, promises, prophecies – all these (and combinations) have been expertly used to fleece the sheep and fatten the collection. Have you noticed collection always comes immediately after praise and worship? Best time to hit them is when their hearts have been sufficiently softened.
All these tactics are evidence of unbelief, perhaps sprouting from doubts that God is supportive of their conference (and such), or from lack of trust in His power and willingness to supply their needs.
“The just shall live by faith.” Collections are Scriptural, but they must be taken by faith, not connivance. The need should be presented candidly, no coercing. Collection time is no time to forget we are ambassadors of Christ, and Him alone do we serve. Compromise compromises the christian gathering, having a draining effect of God’s blessings, the same negative effect it has on the compromising individual.
When the local church declares, “It is time to collect the tithes”, it is being unfair. It’s implying that tithing is an established fact, when, in fact, it has always been debatable. It’s suggesting everyone present believes in tithing, though many of the pew people have serious reservations. Those reservations should be honored.
Why doesn’t the local church have a debate, tithers versus non-tithers? What a great way to aerate this most important issue.
Evangelical, why not make such a suggestion to the pastor? (Joke.)