the weblog of Alan Knox

Give a little bit?

Posted by on Apr 16, 2008 in love, missional, service, synchroblog | 10 comments

The topic of April’s monthly synchroblog is “Social Activism and Christian Mission”. This topic is very similar to the topic of the “Missional Synchroblog” that I took part in on Monday in a post called “Living the Love of God“.

In 1977, Supertramp released the album (no, it wasn’t a CD) Even in the Quietest Moments. The first track of this album was caled Give a Little Bit, and it started with these words:

Give a little bit
Give a little bit of your love to me
Give a little bit
Ill give a little bit of my love to you
There’s so much that we need to share
So send a smile and show you care

At times, I think this could be the theme song for the majority of Christians. We are willing to give to others, as long as we only have to give a little bit. We are willing to do for others, as long as we only have to do a little bit.

We like to think that our giving attitude comes from God, but I think our current attitude of helping those who are in need comes more from society than from God. Last week, on Tuesday, April 8, on the insanely popular (even in our house) reality show American Idol, the top eight contestants sang for a chance to become the next American Idol. For two hours after the show aired, over thirty million votes were cast (that would be 30,000,000 votes).

The next night, Wednesday, April 9, American Idol presented a show called “Idol Gives Back” in which the contestants, the host, the judges, and many celebrities and near-celebrities encouraged Americans to give toward many great relief organizations. Several stories were shown to elicit donations – stories involving infants stricken with malaria and children dealing with Aids in Africa, and stories involving poverty and illiteracy in the United States. Just over 24 hours later, on the Thursday night results show, it was revealed that “Idol Gives Back” has raised sixty million dollars so far (that would $60,000,000).

Sixty million dollars is a huge sum of money. Unless, of course, you compare that financial total to the vote total of the night before. By comparison, American managed to raise two dollars per vote (that would be $2 per vote). As a nation, Americans value entertainment, but when it comes to giving, we only want to “give a little bit”.

For the most part, this is the state of the church and Christianity in America as well. Again, we will give, if we can only give a little bit. We will do, if we can only do a little bit.

It only takes a quick perusal of Scripture to see that God’s heart is toward the poor, the homeless, the foreigner, the widow, the orphan, the weak, the needy. As we learn especially in the New Testament, God’s heart is not moved to give a little bit, but to give the best and to give all.And, the Gospel teaches us that we, as God’s children, are given a new heart that is being changed toward God’s heart. Thus, our thoughts and our actions and our priorities should be changing toward God’s as well. And our desire to give and do should be changing from “a little bit” to “all”.

Don’t mistake this post for a rant. I am not ranting. I am simply observing that social activism is not a concern for our society, for much of the church, or in my own life. I admit that in this area my heart is more attuned to the attitudes of this culture than it is attuned to the attitudes and concerns of God. Perhaps we need a twelve step program for those who realize they should be socially active, but are not:

Hello. My name is Alan. It has been two months since I have given to or done something to help someone in need…

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Below you will find links to other bloggers who are taking part in the “Social Activism and Christian Mission” synchroblog:

Phil Wyman at Square No More
Mike Bursell at Mike’s Musings
Bryan Riley at Charis Shalom
Steve Hayes writes about Khanya: Christianity and social justice
Reba Baskett at In Reba’s World
Prof Carlos Z. with Ramblings from a Sociologist
Cobus van Wyngaard at My Contemplations: David Bosch, Public Theology, Social Justic
Cindy Harvey at Tracking the Edge
Alan Knox at The Assembling of the Church
Matthew Stone at Matt Stone Journeys in Between
John Smulo at JohnSmulo.com
Sonja Andrews at Calacirian
Lainie Petersen at Headspace
KW Leslie: Shine: not let it shine
Stephanie Moulton at Faith and the Environment Collide
Julie Clawson at One Hand Clapping
Steve Hollinghurst at On Earth as in Heaven
Sam Norton at Elizaphanian: Tesco is a Big Red Herring


10 Comments

Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 4-16-2008

    I love this post. And it grieves me when I realize that by giving a little bit I testify that I serve a God who only gives a little bit. If I truly believe I serve a limitless God who gave everything for me, then I would live my lief in teh same way… Wouldn’t i?

    I would follow His commands to love and give and pray and bless without fear that God wouldn’t meet my every need just as HE has promised.

  2. 4-16-2008

    Stop getting all up in my business!!!

    Hahahaha … thanks, again, for challenging me … again :)

    ~Heather

  3. 4-16-2008

    Alan:

    Considering your concerns with “how we do church,” do you think this has an affect on how much we do for the poor, downtrodden, needy, etc?

    For example, it is a well known fact that for most churches the offerings they receive are spent mostly upon staff and buildings. In my church approximately 85% of our annual giving goes to these things. This leaves only 15% for ministry in our church and for missions efforts. We do almost nothing for the poor.

    And of course most people feel very obligated to support their church first, before anything else. I’d like to give to some other organizations that do work with those in need, but I feel bad about neglecting the “budget of the church.” And since I give about $600.00 a month of my income already (I know this isn’t really a great amount and would really like to do more eventually), it is hard at the time to find other money in my own budget to support other ministries besides the church.

    Additionally, because the ministries of the church must run smoothly, most people are encouraged to give their time to the programs (aka ministries) of the church. Although these programs are not in and of themselves bad, in fact many of them are really good, they are mainly geared to those in the church. This leaves people very little time in an already busy life to show concern to the “outside” world.

    Alot of the time it seems our resources are all used up (time, talent, and treasure) to “build” the church. But I sometimes wonder what we are really building and if it is really what Jesus had in mind for us to build.

    So by the way we “do church,” it seems we have diminished people’s ability to share their time or their money with those in need outside of the church.

    Does this make sense? There seems to be a corrolation to me. Maybe not always, but at least often. What do you think?

  4. 4-16-2008

    I agree that this is challenging and thought-provoking. It’s also something we need to hear a lot, so thank you for putting it into words.

    To the anonymous person above me – why didn’t YOU blog this month?!?! that was a fantastic comment!

  5. 4-16-2008

    Yes … anonymous … great comment!!!

  6. 4-16-2008

    Bryan,

    Exactly! When we only give a little bit, we are showing what we truly think about God.

    Heather,

    When God stops getting in my business, or when I stop writing about it, then I guess I’ll stop getting all up in your business. :)

    anonymous,

    Yes! Exactly! You’ve made the connection exactly like I would make it. Like you said, “So by the way we ‘do church,’ it seems we have diminished people’s ability to share their time or their money with those in need outside of the church.”

    Steph,

    Thanks for the kind words. Thinking through this was challenging for me as well.

    -Alan

  7. 4-17-2008

    “It only takes a quick perusal of Scripture to see that God’s heart is toward the poor, the homeless, the foreigner, the widow, the orphan, the weak, the needy.”

    Very true. The remarkable thing is how obvious this is once you start paying attention. Even David was considered the least of his brothers when first called to the throne. What actually happens, though, is that in the church those of society’s upper echelons frequently given preference, and the disreputable folk aren’t even invited. Not always the case, but too often.

  8. 4-18-2008

    Adam,

    I wonder why so few recognize that the church has things backwards – emphasizing the “upper echelons” and ignoring or rejecting the “disreputable folks”…

    -Alan

  9. 4-19-2008

    Dunno. The church I worked with in New Mexico was mostly composed of middle class retired folk. The people I brought in during my brief ministry were working class. Some had “issues” but all were glad to be a part of the life of the church. Then I got word that there was grumbling among some of the long-time members that I wasn’t bringing in people who could help out with the offering. Part of their concern was legitimate. I discovered shortly after starting there that they only had enough in the bank to pay me for two years at the most, and that was stretching it. Jokes on them. Had they been more supportive of what I was trying to do, I would have been willing to become bivocational to keep up the work.

  10. 6-3-2011

    We need to resist the fleshly impulse to seek sameness and comfort. Christ’s flesh entering advent-ure models for us how we are to put on Christ ourselves: can we say the Spirit of the Lord is now upon us if we only want to preach without engaging ourselves in the lives of those who most need to feel the Touch of the Master’s Hand:

    18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
    19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”