Friday, January 8, 2016

The Big Offering

Most churches, in one way or another, incorporate a collection of financial contributions into their worship services. For more liturgical churches, this happens after the message. The logic being that giving is a response to God’s action through answering our prayers and giving us his word. In the churches I grew up in and was a part of until I came to Hot Springs, an offering took place somewhere in the middle of the service, because we wanted to leave time for responding to the Word through seeking prayer and making commitments of faith during an invitation, or what others term an “altar call”. In either tradition, the bringing of tithes and offerings is considered an important part of worship, not simply because what we do with our resources is part of our worship, but because the presentation of tithes and offerings is an act where we not only offer our money but a time where we offer our very selves in worship to God.
One of my favorite verses is this, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship,” (Romans 12:1) or as it is stated in the Message, “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.”
One Christian music group in the 1980’s had a slogan, “He died for me, I’ll live for him”. That slogan has always rang true and sounded biblically sound to me. I think that sentence hits home because it summarizes Romans 12:1. We are to bring our lives before God as a “living sacrifice”. The term “living sacrifice” implies both a complete commitment, and a commitment that needs to continue to be renewed. It is not an offering, like you put in a plate at church, that is given and received at one point and then you are finished with. It is an offering that begins at a specific time, but continues through repeated resolve and commitment through God’s assistance and grace into the eternal future.

It also, as the Message reminds us, is an offering that takes place in the mundane and gritty details of everyday life, and not in the enclosed space of a sanctuary or the narrow window of time of a Sunday worship service. Worship services are important, not because we need to give an hour to God a week, but because that hour equips us to give our 24/7 to the service of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is important to give of your resources to others and to the church. It is even more important to make that giving a portion of giving your life in service of the Master.

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