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Friday, August 16, 2013

Is Tithing part of the New Covenant?

Before Jesus showed up, tithing was the rule among God's people. Ten percent of your harvest of earnings, off the top, please.

Aside from being an offering to God, it also had a practical purpose - it kept the temple in good shape, paying for repairs and staffing, and it provided a reserve in times of want.

It was an unquestioned part of Jewish life, and was operative even when the Jews were subjugated and heavily taxed by folks like the Romans.

Did Jesus intend to do away with the practice, as some clergy believe? Was the New Covenant to be completely free of the Old Rules?

After all, He deliberately broke the Sabbath by healing on that day. That was a Big Thing, and pretty well drew a line between Himself and the Jewish hierarchy.

He also may not have had the intention that the church become so materially conscious as it has. When He was here, His followers me in small rooms, generally in one another's houses. Were the ecclesiastical palaces that grew up in Christianity part of the plan? Did Jesus intend the rise of the mega-church, and the high-flowing cash support it requires?

We really don't know. Jesus didn't address this directly, and neither did Paul or any of the other New Testament writers.

It doesn't really matter, though. We need to tithe, even if we call it something else, because the church is us.

Sure, and we don't know if Jesus intended the church landscape of today, but this is what we have - and it's not bad. We get services, ministries, programs for the kids (and sometimes schools). We have a place to go when we're hurting, where we can know that someone will be there, and will care.

So why shouldn't we make a significant financial contribution, and really make it our church? There's a truism that folks only truly appreciate what they pay for.

It's true. If a friend comes over and gives you a book, saying "This is really great," what are the chances that you'll read it?

If said friend handed you a slip of paper with the title, and said to look this up next time you're on Amazon, you might buy it.

And if you buy it, aren't you more likely to read it?

Kind of the same thing with Jesus, by the way. We got Him free, and what did we do? Killed Him.

If you're committed to your church, then pitch in, give them a hand.

Ten percent, off the top, sounds about right.

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