“When you give a luncheon of dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lam, the blind, and you will be blazed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Luke 14.12-14
I’ve been contemplating on financial integrity lately, especially in the way churches use their money to celebrate different milestones. I see a lot of funding misdirected.
One area of misdirected fund is anniversary celebrations for almost ALL Christian organizations. It’s almost out of control. I remember one time when I suggested to a certain organization that perhaps the best way to celebrate the anniversary is to do what Jesus said to do, invite all the poor and the oppressed to eat instead of throwing another food-wasting extravagant banquet. Someone told me that I just didn’t get it. SADLY, I DO GET IT. I exegete the Bible and write about it for a living. Look at the above passage from what Jesus said in Luke. What is so difficult about the plain meaning of Jesus’ teaching? It isn’t a metaphor. He really meant it. I suspect our problem isn’t money. Our problem is priority. The above teaching shows that the way we use money should be above a mere transaction.
Is Jesus against banqueting? Of course not. He’s often seen eating with both the privileged and the underprivileged. Jesus was talking about priorities. Jesus was demanding that our priorities shouldn’t always be based on the idea of transaction of visible gains. I emphasize “visible” because Jesus did use a lot of transaction and stewardship metaphors to describe the often invisible benefits of the kingdom. The visible benefits are almost immediate as they come in real repayment (see Luke 14.12). It’s all about what “I” can get out of it “now”. The “I” and “now” aren’t what the kingdom is all about. That’s what Jesus was saying. The church ministry is never just about the money. Neither is the church budget. It’s about priorities. IF Jesus’ saying “where your feature is, there your heart will be also” is true, the souls of many churches and Christian organizations are already dead.