Your Tithe is a Stench in the Nostrils of the Father - - - Maybe.
"I do not delight in the blood of bulls or of lambs, or of goats."
"Cease to do evil, learn to do good;
seek justice, correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause."
I've been writing a lot recently about our culture, specifically Christian culture, and how we are doing. At times these thoughts have crept into "real-life" conversations and have often lead to arguments - as I fear some people take these questions as accusations rather than conversation and invitation to help identify issues and mold our lives to better reflect the Kingdom of God. I'm hoping that this is a better platform to flesh out these thoughts and ideas - as well as to hopefully get insight from others.
This morning I read Isaiah 1-5 and the two verses above stood out to me. I love Isaiah, partly because of his writing style - and partly because of the heart and message within each chapter. He is quite straight-forward and doesn't leave much in the shadows to be excavated by deep thought. If you are wondering what to read next - I would suggest Isaiah.
Here, Isaiah focuses attention on the rituals to which the people had become accustomed. In both a metaphorical and practical way - these sacrifices of bulls and lambs and goats mirror much of how I have come to "give to the church". I've realized recently that my auto-draft giving has taken the joy and heart out of it. I truly believe that the Father no longer delights in my tithe.
Yes - He has called me to tithe - - but he has called me to a lot more than that too. Infinitely more important than a deposit into the coffers of the Church is my heart and my obedience to the second passage above. Throughout the Old Testament God's heart for the marginalized, the poor, lost, broken and oppressed glares through. Most of the Old Testament laws were in place to ensure that the poor and helpless of society were protected and cared for. Yet here we see that the people who were in a place to help, and to provide for the poor were being called out for "mindless giving" to the table of sacrifice - while neglecting the vulnerable of society.
Today it is easy to be unaware of the oppression and lack of justice in our communities. If we think back to the time of Isaiah, when people had to walk wherever they wanted to go, we realize that avoiding seeing the impact of oppression was impossible. Today, we can drive from our driveways to just about anywhere we want to go at 45 miles an hour and with minimal effort, avoid acknowledging any oppression. I think we have become quite good at this due to our effort and practice. One example of this can be seen just by strapping a toddler in your back seat, with a good window view. It won't take long before they are asking the questions that we have become too calloused to answer - and, sadly, we now have pre-loaded answers to begin training our children to avert their eyes and accept "reality".
So let us begin asking where injustice resides in our society. Let us cease doing evil. Let us cease our mindless giving, and replace it with true sacrifice - filled with thought and directed at correcting oppression, bringing justice to the fatherless, and protecting those in need.
Grace and peace.