Monday, March 8, 2010

Is Service More for the Servant or the Recipient?

Yesterday in church, I was sitting next to a friend of mine during announcements. Our pastor announced that we would be taking a communion offering for a church that had recently been burned in a series of arson fires. Her initial comment to me was, “Wouldn’t insurance cover it?” Having not yet pondered this I thought about it for a second and replied that giving to them allows them to be blessed by our giving and for us to be blessed by our giving.

I posted a few days ago about how when Christians wait on the establishment to render aid that God is not necessarily glorified. The glory of God is not in knowing that an insurance company will pay for the damages, but in knowing that Christian brothers and sisters are joining together in prayer and support for the hurting congregation. I’m not calling insurance companies bad. I used to work for one. They collect premiums from clients under the premise that a disaster will not happen while the client pays under the premise that a disaster could happen. So paying a claim on a fire after collecting millions of dollars in premiums is the job of the company. That is what they do. So can God use that company to bless a congregation? Absolutely. But is he glorified when the adjuster writes a big check to the church? Maybe so-but not as much as he is glorified when people give of their own resources out of the goodness of their hearts.

God is glorified when people make the choice to give to that congregation. When they help them with the clean-up and they help them rebuild God is glorified. When Katrina and Rita wreaked havoc on the Louisiana and Texas coasts, millions of dollars in federal aide and insurance money were unleashed. But I think God’s glory was not in this money, but in the people who gave out of their own pockets to help the people of those areas and in the volunteers who loaded up their vehicles with tools and supplies and headed down just to do something to start the rebuilding process. The same could be said of the recent events in Haiti and Chile. Numerous governments sent money and resources from all over the world. But the ones who were blessed were the people who sent text messages to the Red Cross, gave to groups like World Vision, donated to a special offering at their church, and especially those who were able to pack up their bags and go in person and help with the effort. Acts 2:42-47 paints a vivid picture of this as believers in the early church who shared their possessions with one another and gave to each other as each had need. They didn’t do this because they had to. It was their choice to love each other in a very real way.

Whether it’s federal money, or an insurance settlement, established entities have their place in accomplishing God’s purposes. If he can use a prostitute (Joshua 2), a talking donkey (Numbers 22), or an Babylonian king (Nehemiah 2), I think he can use a government or an insurance company. But his glory is found when people commit to do the right thing, even when they don’t have to.

So what happens if there is enough insurance money and federal aid to take care of those in need? We know that there will always be a need for service and missions. But what happens when we write off an opportunity to serve simply because a congregation had insurance or because people are receiving aid from somewhere else? We are the ones who miss the blessing. They will be blessed by someone because God has taken care of them. But it is you and I who have missed out on the blessing.

No comments: