Strict//EN" ""> EAGLES' REST: What Goes Around, Comes Around

Friday, May 18, 2007

What Goes Around, Comes Around

"He drew a circle that shut me out
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout
But love and I had the wit to win
We drew a circle that shut him in."

I don't know what to call it, but like a pretty woman or a smart politician, it's easy to spot but hard to describe. What it is, is whatever those folks in Acts had, when they were living in one place and nobody much held onto what they had if somebody else needed it.

For a lot of years, I read that passage and then hooked that to the "sacrificial giving" churches always seemed to be recommending, and that whole dying to self thing, and I thought "Ain't NOOOOO way I'm ever gonna be able......" And we were, of course, encouraged by pastors who never really explained why we ought to DO that in any sort of practical way except "Cuz you love Jesus". And I never felt anything toward Him .. I mean FEELINGS sort of "felt". So I went on my merry way as a Good Little Church Member.

It didn't help any that I was in a Methodist Church and goodness knows they weren't much into the "Oh WOW" sort of miracles, and if that wasn't bad enough, we went from there to the first of THREE Presbyterian Denominations where we learnt what "cessationism" was REALLY all about.

Then, in 1981, we fell into the SBC and so, after 20 years or so, I still didn't get why those folks were so selfless a couple thousand years before. Now, I still don't know what it was, but I'm beginning to pick up a few telltales. In no particular order:

First things first: whatever they had, whatever made them feel like sharing everything they had with those in need, whatever that was, we ain't got much of it today. If any. They felt like that, then, and I see no evidence that we feel like that today.

Consider how many people tithe. And at that, I still hear "gross or net?" If we won't give God what He says is holy unto Him, I wouldn't wonder that we wouldn't give each other what they need, that we have. They felt something, and acted on it, and it's something I seldom see today.

Second, whatever it is, our churches today aren't "carriers" of it. I suppose all the preachers can do is to tell us what they did back then, but maybe they ought to figure out why we don't feel like those folks did, today.

What did those folks have, back then? Well .. a couple things I can think of, that we don't. First thing is that some of them had probably met Jesus. Personally. I'd think that would put a stamp on your spirit, bigtime.

Then, they were led by leaders, at least initially, who'd been with Jesus for several years. There was undoubtedly a fire burning in them, which has somehow, largely, been extinguished over the years. I see that fire now and then, now, but it's not common.

So, what didn't they have back then. Well, for one thing, the Bible as we know it. They were, indeed, living the things that became scripture, today, and nowadays we spend a lot of time trying to coax people into doing the same thing, despite the fact that we have the whole New Testament in everyone's hands, now.

They also didn't have big buildings and big mortgages (there seems to be no evidence that they did in scripture and I cannot imagine it wouldn't have been mentioned if they did). They also didn't have scripture (what of it they had) in everyone's hands, and no professionally-produced programs for teaching, outreach, taking attendance, busing people around, etc. None, that we know of.

I don't think they had a lot of theologians or theological discussions about authorized baptizers, criticism of people going where lost folks were to tell them about Jesus, checklists to disqualify folks who wanted to hit the trail to tell folks about Jesus, screening processes to throw out teachers whose views on some biblical phenomena differed from "management", etc. They didn't have a LOT of stuff, back then.

We experienced a little of this about 4 years ago. We were planning a vacation in Jamaica and I found a 4-bedroom house we could rent for less than a hotel room. So, we rented it for a week and asked two other couples if they'd like to come too. We told them we'd already blown the money for the house and we always rent a car, so if they could just get themselves there, they could hang with us for free. We had a wonderful week there, and the only dispute was over who got to pay for what. We just didn't care. Note: I'm not tooting our own horn here ... we had spent more money on a hotel room, the last time Peg and I went there, so we would have had a bargain even if we'd been all alone.

I think they had a lot more zeal for Jesus, in those Biblical times, than they did for their work! They had more zeal and more love (that showed) for Jesus than they did for telling people about Jesus. The first and great command is to love Him; loving people comes second. And true love for Jesus shows itself in the form of wanting to do what He said.

He set out a couple examples of love for Him, that stand out clearly from 2,000 years. One was, He said that those who love Him would keep His commands. Shortly thereafter, He said that those who love Him would keep His teachings. That implies something radically different ... the fact that those who love Jesus wil not only want to follow instructions, they will want to incorporate everything He taught, into their lives.

That has less to do with our actions, and everything to do with what we are.

All the stuff we've been hashing over, arguing about, analyzing and complaining about for a year, has to do with being zealous for the work. Wanting to get it just right. Wanting to stop or prevent anything that might possibly be wrong, in the work itself. I suggest it has nothing to do with love for, enthusiasm for, or zeal for, Jesus. And every circle that we draw, shutting out certain people, shuts us in.

If it doesn't stop, if it isn't reversed, it's going to get pretty lonely in here.


At 10:30 AM, May 18, 2007, Blogger russkellyphd said...

"Consider how many people tithe. And at that, I still hear "gross or net?" If we won't give God what He says is holy unto Him."

(1) A farmer would go broke if he tithed off gross income. He has to pay akl of his expenses from the gross and most wage earners to not own their own busineess.

(2) Almost everything in eviticaus is called either "holy" or "most holy" to the Lord. The church has discarded most of it and kept the tithhe . That is inconsistent.

(2) Lev 27:30-34 which calls the tithe "holy" only referes to food grown inside the holy boundaries of Isarel in the Old Testament. Theefore we cannot meet taht definition.

(3) The text itself says that the tithe is the tenth, not the first. That is abused by our SBC church.

(4) The text itself says that the tithe is not necessarily the best-- "whether good or bad." That is abused by our SBC church.

(4) The text itself says that tht commandmens were only given to national Israel as part fo the whole package of the Law. That is abused by our SBC church.

Therefore our own SBC church totally ignores 4 things taught by the text they quote to teach titihng. Amazing.

?I wouldn't wonder that we wouldn't give each other what they need, that we have. They felt something, and acted on it, and it's something I seldom see today."

You are correct in this statement. That is what we need. Not a percentage but a heart response. Most should give more than 10%; many cannot and are not cursed because of their inability.

Russell Earl Kelly, PHD

At 10:41 AM, May 18, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Galatians 3:29 says I am Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. So I think I am of Israel.

So .. when did the tithe stop being holy to the Lord? When did withholding it stop being robbery?

I know there's a big brouhaha in some circles over whether God expects Christians to tithe. So be it. I just happen to think we should.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

At 8:23 AM, May 19, 2007, Anonymous ~Lisa in Transition said...

I just wanted to comment on how much I enjoy reading your blog. (I found you through Pioneer Woman.)

Bob, you're a breath of fresh air, and I sense so much a spirit of life here that is void in a large portion of the church today.

Why do people debate, in particular, the tithe? To come to an agreement on the bare minimum standard that ALL should (aught?)have to give? Jesus was never an example of a bare minimum. Even since before the days of Jesus, there have been Believers and there have been Unbelievers, in Judaism. A person in the wrong spirit will always ask, "How much must I give," instead of "How much may I give?" We have a saying around here that God instituted the tithe to keep us from giving away everything that we have, and tithing is not an issue among our close friends who adhere to that belief.

But, we don't do that because we were told to, or taught to. It's just one of many things that go along with desperately running after Christ...from the inside out.

As far as the tithe and our current culture war, I can see why it is so difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom. It seems that the more you have, the harder it is to give it, and there lies the root of the problem. We live in a land drunk on riches.


At 8:35 AM, May 19, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...


Yours goes on my short list of best comments ever. Thank you for making it.

The original title of this post was "Gimme Summa Dat", referring to whatever it was first century Christians had, that made them so want to share. THAT, I want more of. From your comment, it seems you've got some of that already. I changed the Title and added a lot to it, when Wade Burleson (and several others) posted about the meeting with President Carter, and I just knew the doubts and suspicions and recriminations were about to flow. And flow, they did.

A couple of your statements were real gems, which I shall now steal and use as my own. Consider yourself plagiarized!

I'd be interested in hearing more about the "in Transition" part of your screen name. How about E-mailing me?

Thanks for visiting and commenting.

At 8:03 AM, May 20, 2007, Anonymous Lisa in Transition said...

I could e-mail, but ummmm...I don't see an e-mail address. I must be overlooking it. Also, I also am not a blogger myself, so maybe that is why it's not obvious!

Regardless, the short story of the transition is that we made a major move, and we're not fully settled yet, nor will we be for a while. The testimony of the story is awesome though. You might just enjoy it! :o)


At 4:35 PM, May 20, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Click on "View My Complete Profile". There's a link there.

And yes, I'd like to hear it. Well, read it.

At 4:01 PM, May 22, 2007, Anonymous marie said...

Bob, this is soooo good! I'm not part of the SBC anymore but am grieved over the shutting-out of certain people if they don't believe the way someone says they should. (Or if they practice something they don't understand).

I hope the conference that is being held in 2008 will bring Jesus Christ to the forefront and leave all the other "stuff" where it belongs...UNITY is what Christ prayed for!

I am encouraged that Wade and Ben and others are going to be a part of it. Do you think a new revolution may be in the works?

At 5:32 PM, May 22, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Marie: thanks for looking in and commenting.

I wish I could say I saw some awakening coming, but I don't. All the clues I see point to a circling of the wagons, more than a desire to get back to what it means to be a Baptist. But maybe I'm just old and cranky; I sure wish Wade and Ben and Art success in the struggle.

At 9:46 AM, May 25, 2007, Blogger Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear Brother Bob,

I enjoyed reading your latest. I pray you are fully recovered from your episode a few weeks back.

Love in Christ,


At 12:53 PM, May 25, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Thanks, Jeff. That means a lot to me.

I'm mulling over one about differences. It'll take some work not to make it a threshin' session.


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