By Tommy Nixon – Solidarity
“Give till you need Jesus!” I got the honor to MC the annual banquet for Urban Youth Workers Institute (a group of people that I deeply believe in and journey with, check it out www.uywi.org). At the end of the night the stories were told and the ask was given. As I wrapped up the night I encouraged the crowd to give till they needed Jesus and people laughed. Now granted every so often I get some good jokes in but I really wasn’t kidding. As someone who runs a non-profit that is all about getting people deep with Jesus we also have to raise funds. Yet my biggest concern for our donors and partners is not that they give to Solidarity or how much they give in dollar amounts but rather that they give in such a way that they are forced to go deeper with Jesus.
So we find ourselves in a place that most churches do. We need money to run so we provide a service (literally, many churches provide a church service, some even with Starbucks inside) and in turn give the clients something worth the money they give. That my friends is what is called transactional giving (thank you Matt Bates and Mission Increase www.missionincrease.org) instead of transformational giving. If the Church is all about discipleship then shouldn’t giving be about getting closer to Jesus through the art of dying to oneself and clinging to the true vine? John 15. We say that but then build our churches around the idea of a service or Christian oasis that non-believers will flock to and believers will feel comfortable in stadium seating. So what we offer believers is a place to join in with what Jesus is doing in the world and then help them articulate that journey. That’s a tough sell! It would be easier to just tell people we work with gang members and show pictures of how messed up our neighborhoods are to get that money, then we would be selling clear consciences and charity.
As you read you might think, “Here goes another believer being critical of the Church.” Please understand I am not angry at the Church, I am fueled by my experience with Christ to see my brothers and sisters experience the same and more. I wake up everyday believing that when the Church is healthy it is unstoppable and holistic transformation occurs. I deeply love the Church.
I know through the scriptures and experience in the Kingdom that depth with Christ does not come without great sacrifice. It does not come from giving 10%, showing up on Sundays, two week mission trips or cleaning out your garage to give to the poor. It comes from letting go, giving up and intentionally making life choices that will cause you to have to run back to Jesus to survive.
The last year and a half have been the toughest for us at Solidarity. Yet, it has been the most spiritually rewarding. We feel like we have gotten to places in our relationship with Christ that we have never experienced before. It would never have come without the pain and the struggle. It wouldn’t have come if we received pay checks on time or had excess beyond our bills. It wouldn’t have come if we didn’t choose to carry the burden of our friends and neighbors. It wouldn’t have come without deliberately placing ourselves in situations where we do not have control and are forced to run to God.
Yet a majority of the Church doesn’t really believe that. If it did I think the world would look a lot different. I think the majority of the Church believes that giving everything up for Jesus is for missionaries and other professional Christians. The tragedy is not that we don’t have enough help to do what we have been given to do, the tragedy is that many believers do not get to experience depth with Christ, which is truly a magnificent thing, yet found in dying to oneself. We are not all called to the same context, but we are all called and invited into the same way of being, values and teachings that we live by that are not bound by culture, race, context or country.
Give till you need Jesus. Give your time, talent and treasure, give until you lose yourself and find your true identity in the One that made you.
The trick is that pesky faith thing, we have to believe that on the other side of the pain and struggle, the giving away, the dying that we will experience what we were created and intended for, a deep loving relationship with our creator. Its real, its worth it, I can’t go back living any other way. Give till you need Jesus.