What will get you out of bed tomorrow morning to face the day?–Habit? Duty? Determination? Just a vague, “Because I have to…?”
If you’re average like us there are days and times and even seasons of life when you don’t want to get out of bed. You don’t want to face the day. There are days when you just don’t want your life.
This moment in which I write is one such moment for me. Like you, I harbor disappointment in my heart, normally tucked and locked safely away. But, occasionally it bubbles up to disturb the contentment I know I should have, and the gratitude I know I should give to God for this life. My life.
[Bronze Crucifix. Notre Dame, Paris, France. May, 2013.]
Today, I took that sadness with me to church. I brought it in petition. I offered it in worship. I surrendered it in confession. And what I heard in return was both the good news of life in His name, and the command to live for His name: Jesus of Nazareth, Son of God, Christ, our Lord.
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I didn’t see it coming. I hadn’t intended it to happen. But last week, Average Us became controversial. I wrote a post about Why Pastors Shouldn’t Teach Tithing and lots of you showed up to read why, tell me you agree, or disagree, or imply that I’m a false prophet.
(Phew! I’m just a little too average for all that. And btw – we Christians should give generously to support the mission Jesus has given to the church. I explain how much we should give, and why we should give, in What Jesus and His Apostles Taught About Giving.)
One of the disagree-ers was Pastor Tom from California. He wrote a very thoughtful comment explaining why he disagreed, and I thought it was such a great example of Christ-like humility and charity that I asked his permission to offer a reply in this post. Here is Pastor Tom’s comment:
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Were you taught the tithing system?
I was. I believed it, practiced it, and even preached it myself. But no more.
The tithing system is what I call the modern teaching that if you tithe, God will bless you; if you don’t, He won’t. You know the Pastor is going to preach the system if the sermon text is this passage from the the Prophet Malachi:
“Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, “How have we robbed you?” In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” —
The system goes like this: Continue reading →