“God don’t need the money, but you need to give.” Pastor Joel C. Hunter
Pastor Joel said those words in a sermon back about 15 years ago. It was one of those truths so obvious, and yet so often missed, that I was stunned. It was funny and yet profound. That simple statement has led me down all sorts of theological and ecclesiastical rabbit holes over the years since.
I think about that statement every time I encounter blogs and sermons from granite-faced zealots who reduce Scripture to nothing more than the Great Commission (Mt. 28:18-20)–that and a series of endless, repetitive alter calls. It reminds me that the Holy Spirit of Jesus doesn’t really need our help in making believers–and yet many seem to go about that calling with a dogged, joyless determination, as tho the Kingdom depended solely on their efforts. Most guys are into athletics, competitions, stats and keeping score, and for some Evangelical men racking up converts is mostly about the numbers. I’ve addressed that before in my blog: “The Great Commission Fantasy League.”
But the bottom line is that God wants us to participate in spreading the Word and creating believers for some reason. I suspect it’s the same as the second half of Pastor Joel’s humorous stewardship comment: We need to give; for some very good reason He wants us to play a role in co-creating His Kingdom. It is a function that in some way is ultimately for our own good. I think it may be the same with the function of worship. I really don’t think that God Almighty, ruler and creator of the Universe, needs our praise. I don’t think He’s an insecure God. The praise and worship is for us, for our own good. I think tithing, giving, worshiping, evangelizing, praying, etc, are all ways in which God blesses us.
And yet I think many believers feel they’re doing God a favor by praising, worshiping, tithing, etc. It’s like spiritual dyslexia. We hear that grace is God’s free gift and then our minds translate that into as being “a gift” given as a result of our own efforts.