Monday, July 31, 2006

Giving to God

A thought occurred to me today. Why do we always seem to ask, "How much do I have to give to God?" It is as if we need some reason to not give a little something so we can keep that little something for ourselves. Oh how selfish my motivations can be!

I am struck this morning by Jesus' statement to the Pharisees in Matthew 22:15ff. Though there are definitely political overtones to them asking whether they should pay taxes to Caesar or not, they were worried about maintaining their own well-being as the religious leaders of the time. Jesus saw right through their duplicity.

He also struck at the heart of their objection...keeping a little something for themselves. They wanted to have the best, the honor of the people, the respect of the people, the appearance of true righteousness. In all, they wanted God out of the picture because they were busy showing off themselves.

When Jesus says, "Give to Caesar's what is Caesar's, and to God's what is God's" he made a spiritual challenge to a political challenge. The Pharisee's challenged his political allegiances to the government. In response Jesus called them on their spiritual commitment to God. In essence, Jesus told them to decide what is best to give knowing that they were holding their political allegiances high. From the perspective of the crowd, the Pharisee's already told were their allegiances lay...

The following chapter confirms some of Jesus' thoughts in this regard. The pronounces "woes" to the Pharisees and teachers of the law. Their own hypocrisy condemns them as they miss the true point of what it means to give to God.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Feeling Down Spiritually?

We have all had those times in our life when we don't really feel connected with God. There are a ton of reasons why this happens, but mostly it seems to be connected with me focusing on myself. All of my energy is fixed on me. It could be sin that I am consumed with; it could be my selfish endeavor's that ignore others. Whatever it is, "me" is definitely involved.

How do we begin to get ourselves connected with God again? I am convinced that it is by pouring our life into other people. I can't wait to do this for the first time with a student. Read on.

Say a student walks into my office telling me about how bad things are in her or his life. "This part of my life is bad, this is worse, don't ask me about that, and school is crushing all of it." For this past year I have spent a lot of time talking through these things with students in an effort of help them get connected with God. I think God has done some good things for students in these conversations. But, I'm not going to do that as much from now on. It is not that I am not going to talk with students at all. No way! I'm just not going to do it as much. This is what I will do instead. I will ask her or him: "Do you have 20 minutes?" "Yeah" "Okay, come with me." Then we will travel to a nearby nursing home or hospital. I will tell this student to spend about 15 minutes just talking to people, maybe praying with them. These students will then begin to re-connect with God.

When we pour our lives into other people we begin to do exactly what God wants us to do. He is a God who serves others. He washes feet like a servant. He will use us. All we have to do is put ourselves in situations to be used. We can hardly do that when we are consumed with ourselves.