Saturday, May 29, 2004

If We Are the Body...

Have you heard that very overplayed Casting Crowns song "If we are the body, why aren't His arms reaching? Why aren't His hands healing? Why aren't His words teaching?"

Interesting message.

I heard about something today that greatly disturbed me and it involves somebody that I know. I'm changing names/situations, but the point will get through.

A single mother has a tough job. She needs to provide financially for her children, in this case, her teenage daughter. She also needs to teach the child about life. Lucy works two jobs and tries to make ends meet, all the while forfeiting the time she can spend raising her child through the rough and impressionable adolescent years. If she's at work, she's not being a mother. If she's being a mother, she is unable to provide basic financial needs for herself and her child, because she is not working and earning money. It's a very difficult task, being a single mom. It's possible to do, but it seems one has to sacrifice one thing or another in order to do it successfully.

Now and then, things happen in life that cause stress and one of those things is financial strain. Sometimes, people end up in a very bad financial situation due to bad choices, and sometimes finances get pretty hairy due to unplanned expenses. One such expense is what one can incur when changing residences. Switching utilities, downpayments, not being able to move when originally planned and needing to pay for storage space, and a wealth of other circumstances drain the pocketbook.

Lucy was in need. She needed $125. That's all, $125. She needed it today. A friend of Lucy's suggested that she ask her church. Lucy said she didn't think that they would help, but after being encouraged by her friend, she called the church. The church idea fell through. They didn't seem eager to help Lucy, who faithfully attends worship and bible study each and every Sunday and Wednesday as she has for two years. Beth was dumbfounded that the church wasn't willing and eager to help Lucy. Lucy said she is a regular attender and tithes as God provides. She continued on to say that she understands that she gives to God, not to the church. Beth pondered that. If tithes are giving back to the Lord what He has blessed one with, why is it the church maintains control of the tithe? Isn't God entrusting that money to the church to be used to edify the Body and glorify God? If a church member/regular attender is in need, wouldn't the responsible thing be to help that person in need?

Acts 2:42-47

"They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."

I'm not saying that a church should blindly hand out funds every time they are requested by someone, because that would not be good stewardship. The church does have a responsibility though, to its Body. Acts 2 exemplifies how a Body of believers should behave and that includes giving "to anyone as he had need". What bothered Beth most about this situation is that when it was suggested that Lucy ask her church for financial help, Lucy didn't trust that they would help her, and Lucy was right, unfortunately. As though it wasn't bad enough that the church didn't help her, but Lucy knew that they wouldn't! Is that a church that edifies the Body and glorifies God?

Beth shared Lucy's plight with another friend, and together they helped Lucy. Two people pulled together some resources and stepped in where Lucy's church failed. What has the church's behavior in this situation shown to Lucy's teenager? What does it say about Christians to Lucy's child? or to any other non-believing observer? That church will never know the far reaching effects of this. It won't know how its inaction undermines the credible witness of a few faithful followers.

Beth considers herself so unworthy of the blessing she was able to receive when Lucy accepted the gift.

So, if we are the body...

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