Several years ago I read somewhere that the church spends 83% of her money on herself. My guess is that it hasn’t gotten much better in recent years. I have to say, that’s more than a bit embarrassing. Does that figure bother anyone besides me? All I can say to that is it’s a good thing we serve a God of mercy.
As people of faith, we live by covenant. That word is derived from a Latin one that means “to come together” or “to agree.” In our covenant history with God, we come together and agree to certain things that we have always promptly messed up.
Take the Adamic Covenant for example. God created this awesome place for the pinnacle of His creation to live. Whatever you think about the stories of creation in the first three chapters of Genesis, there is an underlying theme that stands out. Creation (Eden in particular) was an intentional, purposeful gift of love. It wasn’t an accident, nor was it necessary. God needed neither it nor us. He was sufficient within Himself.
He gave it all to Adam and Eve and told them to do two things—tend the garden, and don’t eat from that tree over there. They blow it, of course; and it was our first clue that a covenant of works wouldn’t fly for human beings (at least not without leading to our destruction).
So what does this God of creation do? Does He get mad and destroy everything? No. He performs the first blood sacrifice, covers Adam and Eve’s nakedness with animal skin, and fixes the broken covenant with love (and mercy). There was some cursing going on, to be sure, but love abounded more.
That’s why years later when Nehemiah heard about the deplorable conditions that existed back in the Promised Land, he prayed to the Lord and called Him “the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love…” It’s also one of the reasons why John in his gospel made the simple, three-word statement, “God is Love.” God’s love for us is always creative, selfless, and life giving.
If we’re made in the image of that same God, why isn’t our love more creative, selfless, and life giving to others? Why do we withhold so much? Are we just that selfish, or are we simply ignorant? The God who created us doesn’t seem to hold anything back. Do we trust God so little that we think we’ll lose all our blessings if we give some of them away?