Lost Cause

This entry was posted by on Friday, 20 March, 2009 at

It occurred to me recently that I seem to only be motivated by loss. I never really appreciate the things I have, or the things that are given to me. On the day of my “graduation” from college (nine months after I actually completed my degree), my family informed me that they had not gotten me anything for a graduation present because, “We know that you don’t like things.” My reaction to this was probably the polar opposite to what most of my readers are probably thinking. Something along the lines of, “Aww, they DO understand me…” Unfortunately, there was a “yet” in there somewhere and some options presented, but I figure they’ll forget eventually. “Gifts” is definitely not my love language.

I do not appreciate things; I do not even really appreciate people. I also tend not to take advantage of resources and opportunities available to me. I really do not care very much at all until it is too late… and then, boy, do I ever lament what I used to have.

I mentioned, last month, a sermon which caught my attention. It was on tithing. Now I have heard more than a few messages on “tithing” and “giving” and whether or not the mandatory 10% tithe as described in the Old Testament still applies under the New Covenant and so forth. These always come off as awkward, because on some level, when a pastor says to give to God, he is really saying give to the church, i.e. himself. It is not always so blatant as “God wants me to have a new private jet!” Yet I think that even the most honest and well intentioned of preachers have trouble objectively distancing themselves on this topic. This particular preacher was different, however, because the group did not come from a single church, but was comprised of people from all over the country. When he spoke of tithing, he was talking about going back and giving to their home churches, which would not directly benefit him. So he did have that going for him, but he was also an older gentleman, what I would best describe as “a preacher for a different generation,” who took the hardline conservative stance on every topic across the board and I had already spent most of the weekend disagreeing with him.

That is a lot of perhaps unnecessary build up merely to say that the sermon emphasized the blessings that *will* be received by those who tithe. Another member of the group also happened to be the pastor of a church, and shared that in the average church something like only 30% (I forget the number, maybe it was even less) of members actually tithe. Yet he claimed that a significant majority do in his church, and further claimed that as a direct result of this, not one single member of his congregation had been laid off in the declining economy. The message was clear: tithing leads to abundance.

I, however, walked away with the implied corollary: a firm conviction that I was going to lose everything. I was also quite certain that I did not want to lose everything, and that something needed to be done. This was a dramatic realization, coming as it did after more than a year of inactivity.

Yet, it had already begun. I had already lost my band; I had not literally lost my job, but I had made up my mind that I was definitely leaving; before the weekend was out I had “lost” two friends as previously described. I had lost something else that is harder to define – hope, faith, something like that.

To be continued…

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