April 30, 2009

loving tangibly

"We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us-- and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God's love abide in anyone who has the world's goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?"

In 21st century America, laying down ones life for another is very rarely literal.  Laying down ones lifestyle for another, well that's a different story.  Even with SHW not working, we sit in the top 0.95% of the richest people in the world - on one income - and if we are to take the call of 1 John (and quite frankly of the whole of Jesus' ministry) seriously, we should be looking for people whose need calls us to lay down our own lifestyle.

As my faithful readers know, I have a love/hate relationship with my own calling.  Full-time, professional, paid clergy seem so hard to justify.  When half the church budget goes to the priest's stipend, it doesn't leave a whole lot of room for helping those who have need.  Buildings with high ceilings and poor insulation don't help either.  So how is it that the church has returned so closely to the old model of Temple worship that Jesus was so upset about?  How do we change the model so that those with excess and those with need are closer to each other?

Loving tangibly, and by that I mean addressing needs in the name of Christ, is a calling for all disciples, but the Church has made it difficult.  In making me the 57,476,149th richest person in the world, we have made it all the harder for those who pay my stipend to live the calling of laying down their lifestyle for one in need.

Any thoughts?

1 comment:

Craig said...

I agree. I have been troubled with exactly that for 22 years of ordained ministry. Along with that, I have been troubled with the giving in the congregation. If the congregation tithed the Priest's stipend would be a small percent of the budget.
We have a multi faceted problem.