Thursday, April 2, 2009

it's not about the money

So she said, "but that's not helping people!"

When our church put up butcher paper along the walls and asked the congregants (love that silly word) to offer ways to help those in need or ask for help from others, Hubby and I grabbed pens. Hubby asked for help finding a job, and we also offered some ways we could help out others in our community. One way was to invite people to join us at our table. Our cup and plates runneth over, so we thought, hey, guys, come on over! We'll make you dinner. Our kids can play. We can talk and eat. We'll do the dishes.

Seemed reasonable enough to me.

She didn't think so. She thinks we need to make meals and deliver them.

"But," I said, "others are doing that. Inviting people to our table for company and companionship and good food is what we're giving."

"That's putting strings with your gift," she protested.

"No, that IS the gift," I shot back.

See, we get so caught up in thinking we have to give things to people. Money, food, clothes, whatever, we concentrate solely on transfering items to people. And that's good. But, I sincerely believe that there's more.

Jesus invited us into a relationship with him. He's all about the relationship, with him and between all of us. You can't have a relationship with someone when you drop off a meal and leave. Or, you take a bag of clothes to a shelter. Or, you write a check. Those aren't relational. Those are important, but they're not the whole story and they don't delve into what Jesus is about.

Likewise, just because someone has money doesn't mean they don't need someone to minister to them.

My church spends a lot of time on the poor. And, that's great. I love them for it. But, in my church's backyard is a very wealthy part of town. The attitude of some congregants is that "those wealthy people" need to give more and do more for the less fortunate in our society. And, that could be true.

However, does anyone ever ask, how can we minister to "those wealthy people?" They may have full bank accounts and full bellies, but they are probably emotionally bankrupt. You don't have to be poor to be desititute. The rich need compassion and love, too.

We get so caught up in the "helping the poor" that we forget we are directed to help EVERYONE! Not just someone who doesn't have food or shelter. We are required to do that. But, how about doing something harder? How about helping out a rich person? How about helping heal their heart?

God is above money, and we should be too. But far too often when it comes to ministry it's totally focused on money--who has it, who doesn't, and how we can get the people who have it to give it to the people who don't.

But, what if we sidestepped money? What if we didn't rate peoples' needs on the basis of their bank accounts?

What would it look like if a financially deprived person who is heart healthy helped a financially sound person who is heart heavy?


SM said...

Amen, Cat. Money in the bank is not equivelant to peace in the mind, or joy in the heart. Money cannot aleviate the sorrow of loss or lonliness. Money is for spending, but the memory of an evening with good company is for cherishing.

cat said...

Yes, SM, that is true! Money doesn't equate to emotional, spiritual or relational happiness, and so many people miss that boat! Thanks for commenting!