The Total Sacrifice…

February 26, 2014

The vast majority of donations come in from middle-class-to-poor people who give twenty-five to thirty dollars a month and often even less. The vast majority comes in from this class of citizen, and not just in number of people giving, but in number of dollars given. Sure, I have people on our list giving hundreds. Some churches dropped four figures on our project, but most of our donations stream in every month from faithful people like you and me whose “little acts done with great love will change the world.”…

It’s the obscure old woman living on a fixed income who donates her 401k to a Christian college when she dies. It’s the poor college student who goes in with his dorm buddies at ten bucks a pop to give a total of $400 a month to some missionary. It’s the sea of people who decide to live on less so that starving children can live on something, anything. We trick ourselves into thinking that earning more money equals more dollars given, but typically more sacrifice equals more dollars. Even the megachurches that give big gifts tend to have had more given over the entire course of their existence by average people rather than by the rich. That’s not saying rich people shouldn’t give, if anything this is a prompting for the rich to give more, but only after admitting that total dollar amount flows directly from total sacrifice amount. Sacrifice is functionally more effective. That’s the only thing connecting the random group of donors who have committed to our work: we all stand at the intersection of God’s prompting and our obedience.

 

For the most part I will let the quote above stand alone in this post.

I know that when I write posts such as this one I am accused of not appreciated all the money that some of our wealthier citizen give for the public good. I am told that I don’t appreciate that Bill Gates gives billions of his wealth for curing the world’s illnesses. I am told that I don’t appreciate all the money that celebrities such as Bono give for worthy causes.  I want to therefore state up front that I do appreciate the few of those at the top end of our economy  for their philanthropy.

But as the title of this post shows to me it is more about the total sacrifice made instead of the dollars given. When the family of four that are just above the poverty level give $20 a month to an agency to feed the world’s poor that twenty bucks come from a very limited discretionary budget.  Their “total sacrifice” is many times more than those at the top who give thousands and maybe even millions. So, I appreciate it as much, maybe even more than the millions given by others.

Let’s all remember that it is about the “total sacrifice” that really counts. Don’t get caught in the phrase “I wish I could do more” because for the vast majority of us we certainly could do just that….

8 responses to The Total Sacrifice…

  1. 

    We are encouraged to save only for ourselves and maybe our families. People are so suspicious of charities, the one I know struggle with giving at all.
    I found this article to be interesting http://abcnews.go.com/2020/t/story?id=2682730&ref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F

    Like

    • 

      I don’t know who the “we” are in your statement Janette but what you are saying is the same as “I wish I could do more..” above.

      Yes, I do check out the charities I give to. There are some who are scams but that does not prevent me for finding the many worthy ones. They are not that hard to find if you really want to do more….

      Thanks for the article. I see it is from 2007. A long time ago. My source was from the current year. Yes, if you include contributions to your local church then red state conservatives might give more. But the vast majority of what they give really end up just putting the roof over their Sunday get-togethers and the salary of their leaders. Very little of that portion of their giving gets outside of their tight little groups. When you take that type of “charity” out of the mix then things change significantly. But I want to clearly say ALL of us could do much better. It isn’t a red/blue, liberal/conservative thing as so many want to label this and so many other things…

      Like

  2. 

    Sorry, “we” is USA society.

    As far as my source. It is not antidotal. It was statistical. I was not disagreeing with your source, just looking deeper. This one was also interesting http://www.philanthropyroundtable.org/topic/donor_intent/donation

    I tend to disagree about the lack of impact of Churches, but that is not surprising. I feel that most people are not at the point that you seem to be at- single partitioner. Most people who desire to worship as Christians choose to worship together. Building a structure and paying the leaders is helping spiritual hunger. I actually think there is much more unmet spiritual hunger in the US then physical hunger.

    Believe me, I know we all could do more. The problems I am running into? How do we get some people to even start? How do we talk some of the old, established charities that are very top heavy to close so the root charities can take hold?

    Like

  3. 

    Well, I hesitate to write too much cause Im about to write on my homeless initiative on my blog. Having said that, in my experience tend to be on the forefront of the poverty issue and as such they are community participants. My church is expanding their buildings, Yes. And there will be more room to worship “when two or more of us are gathered together”. However, there is also more room to house homeless women one night a week, hold a larger fundraiser for a shelter, invite the community in to meet for whatever purpose their needs are, and our food pantry will be twice the current size.

    Like

  4. 

    Thank you ladies for the additional comments.

    I agree that there is nothing wrong with maintaining the “clubhouse” and staff so that we are comfortable in our weekly gatherings. It helps bring in some who might not otherwise hear the message. But, I don’t really think that this should be included as “charity” but instead as a club membership. When Jesus said to take care of the least of these I think he had something else in mind.

    Even saying that I do also agree that some churches do things that are truly in charity. It is just that it is so often a very minor part of their church finances. Churches should at least “tithe” to God’s work in this world. The most recent one I belonged to did not even begin to do that.

    Barb, I am glad to hear that your church seems to be much more active than most.

    Janette, I too lament of the charities that take so much off the top and little is left for the actual cause. You do have to check out the ones you choose. But the same thing goes for churches. There are so many around that almost completely ignore the words of Jesus and turn to a complete foreign message. You need to check them out as thoroughly as the charities; that is a much harder thing to do.

    Like

  5. 

    Churches are “clubhouses”? We are on a different level of thinking. Jesus was considered a great rabbi according to many of my Jewish friends. He taught at the synagogue – the Jewish “clubhouse”. He referred to the “clubhouse” as “My Father’s House”.
    I am sorry that the “clubhouse” that you once belonged to did not provide you spiritual nourishment or physical nourishment to their community. The “clubhouses” in our town offer all kinds of services.
    After reading your blog I have started to ask around about “clubhouses” services for the deaf. Three offer sign language at “clubhouse service”. Several offer hearing devices. The more contemporary put most of the service on a CC type screen in the front. It is a need in our community. Thank you for pointing it out to me.
    Maybe you need to move? Or at least check around. Things have started to change on the last ten years.

    Like

    • 

      Yes, it is very clear that Jesus was a Jew but that does not mean that he agreed with all the clubhouse rules. He went into the clubhouse and tore the place apart as he saw it was not about God but about money and priestly power.

      He also said again and again that many of the rules that the Jews had set up over the centuries were just wrong. An eye-for-an-eye was flat out wrong. Instead turn the other cheek. All the many many rules about what you can eat and do were wrong. He said nothing you put into your body makes you unholy. In fact he has his harshest words were for the Jewish establishment of his times.

      He told us that his laws could be melted down into two very simple commands. Love God and Love Each Other. My criticisms of the church today are very miniscule compared to the words he spoke against those in his days.

      Lets look at the first 300 years of the church and the amount of clubhouses they built. During those years when two or more gathered it was most likely in someones home, not in a synagogue or lavish church. The only ones who seem to do that today are the Amish. Almost all the money in those days went toward helping the poor (loving each other). It was not until more than three hundred years after Jesus when a Roman ruler grabbed onto Christianity as a State religion that power structures and the resulting cathedrals were built.

      Again, there is nothing wrong with wanting a comfortable place to get together for an hour a week to talk about God but that is not what Jesus mandated. We must cling to the central message and not let all the other things cloud our spirituality.

      This post is not about me and my deafness or wanting to be accommodated in that area. It is about following Jesus and taking his words to heart.

      To my many other readers who don’t comment, sorry for going off on this topic so much in this post. I usually reserve these types of thoughts for my blog over at RedLetterLiving.

      Like

  6. 

    Janette, you seem determined to be offended in one way or another no matter what the subject. Why is that? And why must you always have the last word…even tho this is not your blog? And for the record. churches certainly do seem like “clubhouses” ….same social structure….same financial issues….same rules. No one needs a physical church to call themselves a Christian or to follow Christian values. Just saying…

    Like