For various reasons, CareerMom and I don’t attend church as often as we’d like (or perhaps more truthfully, as often as we “should”). For one, most church services start around 10 a.m., which is also the time our youngest likes his first nap of the day. Another reason, and the one that is probably closer to the truth, is that we like to go to the gym in the morning and have the day to spend with the family, or to do whatever else we like. Although, on these days, we make sure and have Bible story time with the kids.
I was raised a Pentecostal and am therefore used to church services that last as long as two hours. CareerMom, having been brought up a Catholic, starts getting antsy at the 45-minute mark, a time when most Pentecostal pastors are just getting warmed up. What we’ve found though, is that by attending the early service at most churches, when the clock turns near “naptime,” the service is usually cut a bit shorter to accommodate the longer normal service that follows immediately after. All that being said, when we do go to church, we hope to get the most out of it.
This past Sunday, we got up, got the kids ready and off we went to church. After making it through the cry-fest that ensues upon dropping the boys off at their various rooms, we found our way towards the back of the sanctuary just in time to miss most of the music, which is probably our favorite part of whole shebang. C’est la vie!
As the special singers got up to sing and I prepared my “offering” envelope, CareerMom opened the church bulletin and pointed to the sermon title, “Whose Stuff is it Anyway.”
Now, if you’re not a church-goer, you won’t recognize that this title is actually code for, “Why you should give God 10%,” a title that strikes fear into non-regular church-goers everywhere. And it also prompted CareerMom to lean over and whispered, “I better not have to sit here and listen to a service on tithing.” Sure enough, when the pastor got up to preach, it became obvious that we would be treated to a guilt-fest of epic Biblical proportions Old Testament mandates on giving God his 10%.
Being a Pentecostal, I am naturally more forgiving of these little yearly requirement sermons; realizing that the Pastor probably hates giving them as much as we hate hearing them, and so when she said that, I just patted her hand and smiled. But interestingly, as the sermon went on, I found myself fascinated because though it was probably NOT the pastor’s intent, the sermon revealed to me that nowhere in the Bible, does Tithing appear as a commandment from God, or Jesus. It actually came out of law dating back to the days of the Israelites.
Now I understand that the church does many good things with tithes, but I also understand that tithes today differ greatly from tithes in the Biblical days:
- Biblical Tithes included not only money, which is mostly what we ascribe tithes to, but also agriculture, land, whatever the person had to give (remember Cain?)
- They weren’t supporting multi-million dollar church buildings, acres of land, HVAC costs in the tens of thousands and all the other overhead that goes into running a church corporation
So while Sunday’s service was NOT really what I had expected, or hoped for, it was also an eye opener. At this point in my life, after hearing literally thousands of sermons covering most every conceivable subject, I thought I’d heard it all—but I hadn’t. Like a lot of things I’d been taught growing up, I’m convinced that not giving Tithes will not see me burning in Hell for eternity.
So you know…I’ve got that going for me.