Thursday, May 31, 2007

give to Caesar...

I read a very interesting article yesterday that has gotten me thinking, and just keeps bouncing around in my mind ever since. The article talked about 2 things that struck me. The first was on a personal level; it talked about the verse in Mark 12:17 that talks about paying taxes. It says "give to Caesar what is Caesar's and give to God what is God's". That got me thinking about this: if we truly believe that everything - all our money - is actually God's, and we are just stewards of what He gives us, how could we question or ponder whether or not we should pay taxes? Or tithe for that matter? If a person handed me $100 and said "I want you to give $10 to so-and-so, and another $10 to such-and-such, and the rest you can decide what to do with," would I be so arrogant as to take it home and ponder whether or not I should give those 2 amounts? Of course not! It's not my money, I'd do with it what that person said, and you can believe that if I knew I was going to give account of what I did with the rest, I'd do my best to use it wisely. Personally, tithing and taxes aren't something I've struggled with, it's always been a given that I just did without much thought, but I know many people who struggle greatly with it. On the other hand, I have not always used my money in the wisest of ways, not necessarily something I'd like to give an account for if it weren't 'my' money. Therein lies the problem - I need a real shift in my mindset that the money we make isn't really 'mine' but God's allowing me to use His money for my needs. I know I've heard this many times, and we Christians often glibly quote it, but do we really live it? I know many times I do not.

The second thing the article put forth related to churches. It talked about how churches (and other non-profit organizations) enjoy a tax-free status. This is supposed to be because the reason they are non-profit is that they are supposed to exist to help someone - some community or group of people. It proposed this question that I've found very thought-provoking and even convicting... "If your church's tax-free status was going to be pulled unless you could clearly state how you were going to be an asset to your community that year, what would you say?" Wow...that would certainly light a fire under many churches I would think, Koinonia House included. Of course we all talk about what we 'could' do to impact our community, but how much quicker would we act on those things if our existence, to some degree, depended on it? We get so comfortable living in our Christian bubble, blowing a lot of hot air about what we'd like to do for the community, or how we can impact our towns, but many times never actually get around to it. I've been pondering this since yesterday and challenged - how can we get put into action the things we've often 'discussed', and would we be more intentional about it if there was some consequence for our inaction? And though it may not be from the government, what consequences are there, in reality, for our inaction?

5 comments:

Briana Almengor said...

If you haven't read it already or heard of it, Lawrence and I have both been very provoked by a book entitled, "The Treasure Principle" by Randy Alcorn. It's small, easy read, but life changing.

Woman on the Edge said...

Interesting thoughts... especially about the tax free status of churches. I think many churches would be unable to renew their status if asked to outline their benefit to the community.

I live in New Orleans, and since that little storm we had, our church has had a real wake-up experience about the difference we are actually able to make in a community. Shame that it took such tragedy to show us, and at the same time I'm glad that we've finally stumbled upon how awesome it is to make a difference in your surrounding area. I think we're addicted now!!

Anonymous said...

Good stuff, Jessi. Very challenging. Very right on for our time. I believe we're living in a time where the world is watching and so is God to see if the Church will rise up and show Herself strong. We have seen pockets of it, like New Orleans, but it needs to be "loudly" seen all over the world.

Dan Endy

Shaula said...

a topic near and dear to my heart

Zoanna said...

You and I seem to live on the same plane, Jessi! I was pondering this very passage recently. And the thought I had was, "it's all God's. Even the taxes." I always knew that and didn't struggle with tithing and had no choice about taxes (evasion is not a temptation) but what struck me anew was that He is Lord of the taxes, he is sovereign over what I deem "too high" or "unfair" or whatever. God could change that if He chose; it does me no good to complain. Great point you made about talking vs. doing as a church. I believe the problem is selfishness, plain and simple. It's just easier to fill up the calendar with meetings, services, studies, fundraisers, and such than to put one's self out there to serve the community.