For more than a year, I’ve wanted to write about my misgivings about Christianity. I’d probably title it, “I wish I could be an atheist” just to get your attention… Sadly I can’t turn my back on Christianity, Jesus is too real to me.
Sometime this year someone asked a question on a Facebook group I belong, his question was about tithes. He wanted to know if he must give his tithe in church or he could give it to someone in need. Expectedly, most of the reactions said take it to the house of God. My response was; Jesus and the early apostles did not pay tithes, in fact there’s no positive mention of tithes in the whole of the New Testament… You can check your bible. Instead Jesus condemned the religious rulers of the day for placing emphasis on tithes rather than judgment, mercy and faith Matt 23:23, Luk 11:42. However Jesus enjoined us his followers to give to the needy Matt 26:11 Mark 14:7. The early disciples sold their goods and GAVE TO THE NEEDY, they didn’t sow their worldly goods into building cathedrals and universities but towards the poor among them Acts 4:34-35.
I was called a lot of things that day… someone actually suggested I was a satanic agent. Funny thing is I didn’t even tell him not to pay the darned thing. Some people were mature enough to try and reason with me and I learned plenty that day. For all the noise that is made about tithes, the early Christians way of life actually encouraged even more sacrificial giving than merely giving tithes does.
There was a pastor I respected plenty until he said non-tithers will go to hell. Of course, he quoted Mal 3:8-10 and I shuddered as I watched the telecast. Will non-tithers go to hell? I don’t know but I don’t think so, there’s no biblical evidence for that. If non-tithers go to hell, what about those of us who do not keep the Sabbath day holy? Those of us who have to work on Sunday- I’ve worked on more weekends than I wanna remember.
Funny thing is Matt 25:31-46 clearly states the outcome of those who don’t give to the needy. The Bible verses below are from the New International Version of the bible.
31“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.
32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,
36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?
38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?
39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,
43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Yesterday, after writing Pressured. I knew I wanted to write about money and the church, wanted to express my sadness on how we’re manipulated to give in church. There was a time in my church (thankfully it hasn’t happened in a while) that at every programme, we’d be asked to sow seeds and different grades of seeds get different prayers… I kid you not! The prayers for one hundred thousand naira and above were hot and fervent while those for one to ten thousand… whatever happened to not letting your left hand know what your right is doing Matt 6:3… whatever happened to being led by the spirit of God to give. Why should you classify the seed. Warraheck is that?
I was making a necklace and watching one of my favourite shows- Cold case and the song that was used to end the episode was “what if God was one of us” by Joan Osborne. I’m familiar with the song, heard it first on glee (used to love the show until Cory died) but as I heard it, I knew how this blog post would turn out. An appeal to show a little kindness to the needy around, to do it by ourselves and not just a special collection in church.
You might think… I don’t know anyone who’s truly poor, I’m the poorest person I know… God knows I think that way sometimes, so I understand that line of reasoning. There’s no one so poor that he/she can’t give something to someone, it doesn’t have to be money or material things. It could be a visit to that lonely old woman on your street and spending an hour listening to her stories and helping her with a few chores. It might be offering to help the little kids around you with their homework, whatever it is you can do to fill a need for someone. Sometimes, money might not fill the need.
You might think, I’m too busy or something. But what if you saw God’s face on them, what if that child you didn’t help cross that road was God… wouldn’t you forget about work for that day and cross that child twenty times if they so desire. What if for a minute or two, that annoyingly irritating customer/client was God… wouldn’t you be nicer? We have no way of knowing when God will “need our aid”, we don’t know what form or shape he’ll appear in Heb 13:2… he might even use my face 😉
“What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make his way home”
The chorus of the song from which I took my title haunted me from yesterday until now. I wonder why the haunting eased as I write this words, perhaps I’m writing this for someone who’ll read this post two years from today and it will spur him/her to change something in their lives.
Most importantly, I’m talking to myself. A reminder to think of others and reach out to them even when my problems seems to drown me… especially when my problems choke me. Seriously though if y’all thought I was God… My blog stats would be stratospheric.