Rubent Swint, Generosity Guy and stewardship consultant, calls congregations to choose the only world that gives life.
A tension commonly emerges in the annual stewardship emphasis around the issue of how much money should people give. Stewardship communication contains a lot of Biblical references to giving, the testimonies speak to giving and the minister preaches on giving and sacrifice. The example of the widow giving all she had is a common story.
I think the tension around money is related to the fact that Christians live in two worlds. One foot is in the world we can physically sense. The other foot is in the world we can spiritually intuit. You know the two worlds. There is the Sunday world (for Baptists it is the Sunday / Wednesday night world). And there is the Monday through Saturday world. Both worlds are real. We act, react and live in both worlds, so there’s tension.
How much attention do we pay to each world? How much loyalty do we exhibit to each? How much time, energy and money do we invest in each world? Is one of these worlds primary and the other secondary? Do these positions ever change? Are these positions constantly in flux, one in, one out, another in, another out?
Kind of reminds me of the “Hokey Pokey,” a dance song with a muddled origin which became popular in the United States in the mid 1950’s. You probably know it:
“You put your right foot in, you put your right foot out,
You put your right foot in, and you shake it all about.
You do the Hokey Pokey and you turn yourself around.
That’s what it’s all about.”
The lyrics continue with putting various body parts “in” and “out” with accompanying gestures as the dance. It is really a nonsense song and dance that has the ability to make one feel good. No tension about it.
But there is tension isn’t there, in constantly negotiating our two-world existence? The mortgage is due versus don’t be anxious about tomorrow. I don’t have anything to wear versus giving away one cloak if you already have two. Give to the government what is the government’s and give to God what is God’s.
You do the Hokey Pokey and you turn yourself around. Turn yourself around; that sounds like repentance. Repentance is not just being contrite. Repentance is also changing our thinking and our acting. It is turning toward the life that is truly life. The tension is not about the money; it is about choosing the world that gives life, that celebrates abundance and that lasts, forever. And when you do choose, “you put your whole self in.”
And that’s what it’s all about!