I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. 2 Corinthians 8:8-9
Generally, I have never liked comparing churches…for lots of reasons. It is a thing wrought with pitfalls and other dangers. I think comparing churches just fosters the already-prevalent attitude that churches are somehow in competition with each other for all the best people. We all know better intellectually, but our actions and attitudes say otherwise. I also do not like comparing churches because each local body of believers is dealing with its own special calling to a community or a certain people group or some other such “calling”, and the processes and programs should be specific to that calling, which makes comparing your church’s programs to my church’s programs an apples and oranges kind of thing.
But as with almost any other rule, there are exceptions to my rule against comparing churches. I mean, seriously, if a particular comparison was OK with Paul, then who am I to question it? Paul did not seem to hesitate in his second letter to the Corinthian church, comparing the generosity (in giving) of that church to that of the poorer Macedonian churches.
You see, there is something about “living generously” that transcends cultural differences or even differences of church size or Christian “flavor”. It is the very heart of a church, and it has a way of leveling the playing field in any comparison. The church who focuses on pouring itself into the lives of others, who focuses on being generous in giving …
Tuesday Re-mix – Anonymity Anonymous: Recovery from our Addiction to Self-reliance
Step 1: We admit we are powerless over our addiction and that our lives have become unmanageable.
There’s an old joke about two guys out on a camping trip. They are at their campsite and they spot a bear off in the distance. They are watching it when it spots them and starts coming toward their campsite and then starts running toward their campsite! One guy grabs his gun and starts loading it and grabbing extra ammunition. The other guy grabs his tennis shoes and starts furiously lacing them up. The first guy says, “Are you crazy!? You’ll never outrun the bear!” And the second guys says, “I don’t have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun you!”
In my addiction to self-reliance, i.e., my fear of being too transparent with my friends, i.e., my secret disdain for the type of “community” and interdependence described in the Bible, there is a perspective that “enables” my addiction. It actually makes the addiction worse. It is the perspective that I don’t really have to be as perfect as God desires me to be…I just have to be better than the guys around me. It is an attitude that all but gives up on living the life God intends for me and stays content with living a life that looks pretty good when compared to lots of other people. It is the attitude that says, “I don’t have to outrun the bear…I just have to outrun the guy next to me.”
You see, no matter how badly I mess up, I can always find someone else who messed up “worse” in my opinion. And as long as I can feel like I’m doing better than most folks around me, I …