The Divine Mystery exists in each of us. We are Stewards of that Mystery.
When we mention giving in church, we usually relegate that to something that inevitably ends with talk about time, talent, and treasure. All we possess in this life falls into one of those categories. Fair enough. There is also this: whom do you consider deeply, wildly, and gleefully generous who also describes their giving based on the truth of those three categories? I thought so.
We can do better.
If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten. I’ve seen that saying in physical therapy facilities and locker rooms. I’ve heard people repeat it coming out of motivational talks or sales gatherings or twelve step meetings or sessions with a therapist. I’ve even repeated it to myself when I think about ‘going the extra mile.’ I think of that phrase differently now. I think of it applying to God when God decided to come into the world in the flesh, in the person of Jesus. In Jesus, God did something new.
God knew what to expect, how people would behave when blessed with exodus or faced with exile. God knew how people would react to wise men and crones, to miracles and misery. He watched the dull expressions of half interest in His people when the prophets, major and minor, convicted them repeatedly of their obvious sins and spoke with passion about the need to just stop it all. To turn back. To, as the Southern folk signs say, ‘Get right with God.’ After watching for all those years, God did something different: ignoring the humiliation of it all, God came Himself.
It was an odd arrival. His own prophet, Isaiah, said about His appearing that, “He had no form or majesty that we should look at Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.” The authors of God Calling point out that for those who refused to see Him, there was nothing He could do. For those who looked for Him and found Him, there was nothing more to be desired. What separates these two groups? The nature of our giving.
Jesus was a ‘man of suffering, acquainted with infirmity.’ This came about as He gave Himself away. God’s love for the world results in giving us Jesus. Jesus’ love for people results in His emptying Himself: before, during, and after the Cross. To see that love, to experience that grace, to be swept up in that forever truth, our giving must begin to match His. It is by that imitation that we are able to begin to walk by faith, not by sight. When our giving looks more like His, we graduate from church categories of giving and replace them with visions of the Kingdom.
Questions for the day:
What does it mean for me to give myself to God completely? Who is the person who comes to mind when I think of giving away self to God? How do they do it?