For those of you who were able to be in worship Sunday, you were privileged to hear a sentinel sermon that spoke deeply and truly to the heart and soul of Midway Hills Christian Church. Dr. Irie Session spoke about our need as a beloved community of faith to “Toughen Up” our selves to speak the truth and live our lives as God calls us to do. It was plain spoken and clear. And, as she carefully pointed out, it was not comfortable. If we are to live into the faith that we proclaim, we must witness to our beliefs to all the constituencies with which we interact. (if you missed the sermon listen to it now http:/LINK)
She reiterated many times how hard this is to learn and do. It requires discipline and mutual support from our community and constant reminders to grow into being the faithful persons we all seek to be.
Through the lens of giving, I would humbly suggest that learning to give is a “non-threatening” way to practice our witness. It in no way replaces action and interaction with others but it is a way to prove to ourselves that we can be countercultural and live out our faith. Giving and giving generously to empower action is not easy. It is counter to our societies constant harping on us to be thinking of ourselves first and God’s work as an afterthought. Society teaches us that giving is like giving a “tip” to our server in a restaurant. After we have eaten everything in sight and paid for a meal that we could have prepared ourselves, at the last-minute we think of those who actually did all the work and leave a “tip” (the generally accepted amount is 20% of the bill).
Giving demonstrates that we put God first in our lives and our “first fruits” should be given to God’s work. Then, if there is any thing left, we will give something to ourselves (note the reversal of culture). Giving is actually much easier that the witness that Dr. Session calls us to practice in our lives. If we are to get to that kind of action, then giving generously is a way to get started. It prioritizes our lives and gives meaning to what we believe. It may mean that we have to “toughen up” our financial lives as we “toughen up” ourselves. God’s love and grace is enough to help us find the strengths that we will need to live our lives in the image of Christ. We have a call to be Christ’s people, witnessing for justice, ending racism, and bringing true equality to this world.