More than 30 years ago, the editor of our denominational magazine ruined Thanksgiving for many of us. His editorial made these observations;
Some of you will sit down at Thanksgiving dinner with your family and thank God for your cottage, second home, motor home and healthy investment portfolio. Yes, it’s true you have been blessed. But are you sure God wants you to have all these things? It is true that God gave you the ability, skills, intelligence, discipline and work ethic to make the income needed to possess them. But is that the reason God entrusted you with wealth?
Could it be that you’ve actually deprived the poor, or hungry, or sick of resources entrusted to you? There may be people right in your town, this very day, unable to thank God this Thanksgiving because their apartment is cold, or they’re living under an over-pass or don’t know God at all, because you have “their rent” or utility money tied up in stuff God didn’t actually intend for you to have?
“If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” 1 John 3:17
“Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: ‘The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.’” 2 Corinthians 8:13-15
Be careful what you thank God for this Thanksgiving.
There were angry people who wrote letters to this editor, accusing him of being a socialist or worst yet in our conservative town, a democrat! Others thought he had no right judging anyone with any extra money. But I, a rich young ruler at the time was profoundly moved.
She said her enemy is her mother. Apparently, her mother was and is, cold and controlling, and with the holidays coming up, as she said “I’m getting the sweats just thinking about spending two days with her without getting emotionally cornered. Are there some people just too toxic to “like” or be around?” she asked.
To her relief, I said “yes, there are toxic people who you do have the right to keep at a distance. However, I’d be interested in hearing why she’s still so toxic for you after 30+ years of living outside her home.” I wanted to hear what she’s done to try to heal this relationship or put proper boundaries on it.
Her answer reminded me of this principle I’ve observed in myself and others, we want mercy from God for ourselves, but justice for those who’ve hurt us.
I’m grateful God doesn’t take the same attitude with me.
Papa, do we (humans) look like God?
That question came up a number of years ago as I was driving with a few of our grandchildren. We were talking about the recent birth of a new cousin. I had reminded them that all humans were created in the image of God. My answer surprised them, as it does many Christians.
“No, we don’t look like God,” I said. “That’s not what the Bible means when it says that we were created in the image of God.”
So, what follows is the framework for a discussion you may want to have with your children or grandchildren about the amazing distinction between humans and animals, often blurred in movies and fiction.
In the last month, I’ve been on the campuses of three Christian colleges. I noticed that every one had buildings named after their donors. I was immediately reminded of Jesus words in Matthew.
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:1-4
So, how do Christian institutions justify putting the names of donors on buildings or publicly identifying a major donor of a lead gift, when Jesus clearly says, do not do that!
The answer is obvious. Christian colleges, ministries and even churches encourage donors to name buildings, athletic fields or scholarships because they can raise more money if they do. It works!
So, let’s talk about how some have tried to justify this fundraising gimmick and what you can do to discourage it.