Sunday, November 6, 2011

My Thoughts are….

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. – Isaiah 55:8
 
There was an online discussion that began with the question about what would happen if churches with huge buildings with ornate decorations spent that money on the homeless and hungry, instead.  It was an intellectual exercise, a rhetorical question.  Not intended to point fingers.  You know, a verbal opinion poll.  My response changed that, in a way.
 
I said, “Since we're talking specifically about churches, let's go a little further. We're then also talking specifically about Christians, followers of Christ. So, what does Christ say? Mark 14:7 reads, "For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always." I chose that version of the well known quote because, of the three, it's the only one that includes "and whensoever ye will ye may do them good:". I think that's key to the entire thought. Many use the verses that don't include that phrase to redirect peoples' focus to "spiritual" subjects instead of earthly needs. But the New Testament indicates that Jesus did have a concern for those in need. What Jesus was saying was pretty simple and pretty clear. Get your spiritual stuff taken care of. Get the mind of Christ. Then your desire to help others will come from the proper perspective and be done in a way that has lasting value. Taking care of bodily needs is important, but outweighed by spiritual needs -- your own and of others. That's when you teach someone to fish instead of just giving them a fish to eat. And, if the external trappings help you and others keep that focus on the eternal, what's wrong with that?

The statues and ornate decorations are far less a problem than a church taking in money and it going into the pockets of the pastors to a degree that they ought to be on TV on Robin Leach's "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous". That's when they've missed the point of the Bible and turned church into a con game for their own benefit.”

As I was writing that, I started thinking about the verse that starts today’s post.  And how the subject really fits into our previous discussion on mindsets.  The mind of man tends to think in terms of short term, immediate fixes that may or may not have lasting effects.  And, just to put that in perspective, the fixes are short term because the focus is on self.  Thinking eternally. on the other hand, relies on longer term solutions that don’t fade with time.  There's another aspect to that, too.

From man's perspective, that becomes an "either or" idea.  Be wealthy or give away your wealth.  From God's perspective, the choice is between whether it's intended to honor God and draw people to Him or if it's accumulating wealth from that scarcity mindset that John Maxwell told us about.  Do I want to reverence God through the blessings He's given me or do I try to keep getting more to meet my self focused supposed needs and wants?

All of this was actually going to be introductory to what I considered to be the main part of the discussion.  Obviously, my thoughts on that weren’t His thoughts.  There is more next time.  Because there’s still another part of this equation that we haven’t explored.  And it’s an important part of the discussion.  One we can’t ignore.  So, in the next entry we get to the second part of this subject and the fifth post in the series on mindsets.

In the meantime, consider the verses that are the focal point of this post.  What considerations do they bring to your mind?

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