“Is not this the fast I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the yoke of burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to divide your bread among the hungry, and bring the poor and cast out into your house? When you see the naked to cover them; and hide not from your own flesh?”
Maybe we were completely off base with the conversation we proposed in Part II. Maybe hospitality is no different than generosity which is no different than philanthropy.
But, you have to wonder…why are homeless-oriented charities not ending homelessness?
Then again, maybe we are in fact on to something…
In Matthew 19, Jesus drags the notion of the future into the present.
His dialogue with the rich man is an invitation.
It’s an invitation for us to become a part of creating heaven on earth.
How? By physically creating the world to come.
In the world to come, there is:
In the present, we are to build that future.
Through politics of course. No, no, no. We’re just joking ya (in Zeke Solomon’s voice).
Actually, let’s use a policy example because of how relevant politics are.
If we joined the campaign trail our platform would be: decrease taxes and begin defunding “entitlement” programs.
A better question, how would you respond with more of the money you earned back in your pocket?
See, the motivation for our platform is purely to provide the Body of Christ the opportunity to live out its calling.
Would you do your part?
What is your part?
We, the Body, have gone from being a hospitable people, to a generous Church, to a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization.
We look and act the same as our government counter parts, and every other socially responsible institution.
Yet, our calling is different.
Our call is not as an entity, but as a united people using the “block of land” God gave each of us to bring water and shade in the deserts of people’s lives.
Also, each of us is called to leave our home now and again to storm the gates of hell in which people continually trap themselves.
Each of us is called to be God’s hands and feet.
Each of us is called to provide rest and relationship.
Because our God is different. He is still active in this world, working one relationship at a time.
Unfortunately, the Church has invited the trap of Western-consumerism. How so?
The central message of consumerism is to pursue self-interest (comfort & security) above all else. Church programming and new buildings are attempting to meet the call for the Body by inviting them to give comfortably and securely from behind their iPhones while the Church does the rest. Awkwardly, the Church is no longer the only city gate (social justice oriented non-profit) on the scene, because each of us, as Christians, were not doing a good enough job meeting all the need. Moreover, for-profits are capitalizing on the “generosity” of millennials and turning profits while “doing good”.
For example, Toms® is likely the most known for-profit in this regard and their Downtown Portland window display is depicted below. Their marketing is a brilliant invitation to pursue self-interest as a purchaser of “good”. A less known for-profit, Thrive Market ©, gives you access to discounted health food products for $59.95 /yr and “(w)ith your paid membership, Thrive will sponsor a low-income family [membership].” However, Thrive does not yet accept EBT which is the electronic debit system for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, the old food stamps). What “good” is a membership if low-income families cannot afford to buy the food items they now have access to?
As a result of for-profit marketing, the disposable income of “generous” Christians is now being competed for by non-profits, like the Church, and for-profits alike.
So, which business model is more apt for bringing the Kingdom and taking it the farthest?
We believe the Church is misguided in pursuing any business model. It, like the thousands of non-profits and for-profit do-gooders, are parading under the guise of ‘humanitarianism’, but are financially capitalizing through the means of Western-consumerism. Their models target those seeking or desiring to feel good about doing good.
Which begs the questions: is doing good, bad?
But, generosity has become about fulfilling a self-interested desire — a check-the-box mentality of getting your giving and serving comfortably completed.
We have yet to hear someone speak about generous giving to the Church as low-hanging fruit in the Kingdom of God. The conversation stops at being generous and does not move forward to encourage hospitality. We believe this is precisely what is at the core of the Church’s financial problems.
Churches, maybe now more than ever, face financial struggles. We have seen such struggles here in Portland and our previous home. Our current church ($300,000 in the red) is unashamedly aggressive in their Portland-community engagement and programming. Our previous church is similarly oriented in their programming and bought a new building as a means to provide new services and programs.
Are either evil in their intention? No.
Are both advancing the Kingdom? Yes.
So then why would desperate times fall on the Church?
Because it is assuming the individuals’ role, placing distance between the individual and the downtrodden, and leading the Body into the comfort of giving rather than being God’s hands and feet.
Giving is check-the-box; in and out; √.
Being is a relationship-oriented lifestyle enacted daily.
Distance is corrosive to relationship.
The prophet Isaiah tells us we are supposed to divide OUR bread among the hungry, and bring the poor and cast out into OUR house.
YOUR house, not a Church building.
YOUR bread, not what the Church gleans.
So we return;
Would you do your part?