In Daily Bread and Forgiven Debts you will encounter thoughtful reflections on what happens when Relational Tithe has more needs than available resources to meet those needs. You will see that shared economies start at home and with our neighbors. The final word is that God has provided enough for all our needs. With a set of questions at the end, this becomes a good group or individual study.
Here is a snippet of what you can expect
The French sociologist and lay theologian Jacques Ellul summarized our normal way of thinking about money like this: “we look at the money question from its global perspective, and we try to solve the whole economic problem in order to solve, once and for all, the problem of money.” But the question of which system best organizes our relationship to money doesn’t seem very important to the Bible. Because the Bible is primarily concerned with our relationship to God. Sure, the Bible talks a lot about money. But it’s in the context of our relationship with the God who made us and everything else that is or ever will be. In the Lord’s Prayer we are not instructed to ask for the system that will best facilitate global economic relations. Instead, we ask God to provide today’s food and cancelled debts, even as we are canceling debts against us. Instead of the global view, you might say God begins with us at home.
The word “economy” comes from two Greek words: oikos (house or home) and nomos (law or order). So the oikonomia is, literally, the order of the home. There’s nothing peculiarly Christian about that. It’s just how people thought about society in the ancient world. You might think of it this way: if a kingdom is a huge building where all kinds of people can live, the fundamental building blocks for this huge structure are homes. Households are the base units of the economy.
In the plethora of books and articles I have read over the years that champion the poor and urge believers to adjust their lifestyles accordingly, I have come across almost nothing that examines the fiscal priorities of congregations in the light of this patristic legacy. Articles abound on the responsibility of individual believers to conscientiously steward their financial resources but silence prevails on what is the appropriate use of this sacred revenue by the church once it has been collected. I am not saying that we are obligated to follow the example of the early church. But most of us do believe that they have bequeathed us an important legacy. We take this with great seriousness in the area of doctrine, and I am simply advocating that we listen to them with equal seriousness in the area of stewardship. The fact is that the twenty-first century church is very rich—not necessarily my church or your church, but the global Church—and, as we are all painfully aware, we live in a day when 2 billion people somehow manage to live, or die, on less than $2 per day. Most of us are saturated with statistics and they can become both tiresome and depressing (and I, for one, have no desire to use them for guilt manipulation), but it is necessary to use some to set the context of any contemporary conversation on the appropriate use of church finances.
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