Friday, March 23, 2007
what about God?
A minor point that Jeff mentioned in yesterdays Comments. "What about God?" Our church is doing well in tithing and volunteering compared to the national average ... actually, the national average is my job right now, so I've got those numbers in a stack of papers on my desk. Hold on ...
I have it broken down by age group, but probably the largest percentage of our church was born between '65 and '83. According to the Barna Research Group, 29% of people in this age group volunteer their time in church. So we're actually pretty average. Tithe? 9% of born again Christians tithed 10% of their income to a house of worship during the year of Barna's most recent study (2002). Again - average. I hate to burst bubbles.
But the comment that struck me was ... what about God ('s standards)? I wonder how often we make our standards "God's" standards. I wonder how often we compare ourselves to ourselves (which we know is not wise). How often do I eat a cookie mid-fast and justify it by telling myself that I still did better than the last time I tried to fast - whose standard is that? I we give 5% one month because the car needed repaired - whose standard is that? If we drive 5mph over the speed limit, but are still going slower than everyone else on the road - whose standard is that? Tell a little white lie, argue with parents (over something small), pray for half as long as we watch teevee (but 10 minutes longer than yesterday) - whose standard?
I wonder how many of God's standards we're falling short of because our society has so compromised them that we don't even see them anymore. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells his disciples that if someone were to sue you and take away your coat, give him your shirt too. Imagine someone taking off with your wallet and you chase him down just so you can give him the $40 that was in your coat pocket too. Or, "give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away." (Matt 5:42) And there's always, "Be holy, for I am holy." (1 Peter 1:16) Whose standard?