Thursday, November 17, 2005
Church Signs, Part 1
Today I want to begin a short series of blogs on "Church Signs That Really Chap My Hindquarters." We see them all over town, especially here in the tightest notch of the Bible Belt. Every day I see at least one church sign that makes me just want to call someone at the particular church and say, "Bet THAT sign really brings 'em in this week." You see, I am of the firm belief that church signs are not the place to broadcast crusty old church sayings. If I were an unchurched person and read some of the signs I've seen, I'd keep right on driving by. So anyway, off we go, with one of my personal non-favorites:
"Give God What's Right, Not What's Left."
Much to my shock and horror, the world of televangelism has allowed Robert Tilton back on the air. Most unchurched people think the church is already after their money anyway because of morons like brother Tilton and so many others. When I was 16, I ordered a set of Jerry Falwell's teachings on the Second Coming of Christ. It was my free gift for calling. As Mr.Yawn, my economics teacher in High School used to say, "There is no free lunch." In this case, there was no free gift, either. My payment for the Falwell teachings was to receive one letter a month from 1983 to 1989 from Dr. Falwell, BEGGING me to send my $1,000.00 donation or his ministry was going to go off the air. The letters stopped when I finally wrote Dr. Falwell personally explaining that I was a teenage student making $3.35 and hour (minimum wage at the time) and would not ever be sending in my $1,000.00 donation. I thanked him for the tapes on the Second Coming, and offered my condolences for the fact that despite his well documented predictions of the Lord returning in 1984 (five years prior), we were all still here. I then politely asked him to remove me from his mailing list.
It is now 2005, and I have not received even a postcard from Dr. F. and last time I checked, the Old Time Gospel Hour is still being aired, even without my assistance. Though I recently offered him $1,000.00 to go off the air. Still waiting for a reply...
Giving God what's right is a "Old Time Gospel Hour" way of referencing the biblical concept of tithing (10 percent of gross earnings). Tithing is an act of worship and obedience. Recall the story of the widow giving her mere pittance at the temple (the Widow's mite). Jesus didn't go up to her and say, "Hey, lady, give God what's right." Instead He told the other disciples to look at her and notice what a cheerful giver looks like.
"Give God What's Right and Not What's Left" sends the message to the unchurched that "we are not very accepting of people without money to give." Most people live beyond their means and are trying to put their children into college and retire one day. They don't have a lot of disposable income as it is. They would probably feel safer giving money to charity than to give to the local church, and with obnoxious church signs like this one, who can blame them?
One particular theme runs through the entire Bible. It is the theme of a kind, loving, gracious, and patient God Who is more interested in what He can give to you than in what you can give to Him. There is only one "right" thing to give God, and that is your heart.