Saturday, July 2, 2011

Payment for Services Rendered

While cleaning my window blinds this afternoon (by myself because I can't afford to have a housekeeping service) a new thought occurred to me about why the church across town allows their pastor leaders to live a lifestyle of the Up-and-Coming Elite in good conscience. Till now, when they cross my mind, I've been perplexed, wondering how they can justify the senior pastor family freely accessing the money provided by the weekly tithes and endless extra offerings to use as their personal expense accounts.

Since I'm cleaning, I can't help but wonder if each member of the family employs a housekeeper (one for each household). If not that, then they at least have a volunteer come once a week so they are getting free housecleaning - no harm in that other than for the poor schmuck who then has to go home and clean her own house, again for free. It's been said that the senior pastor household has their grocery shopping done for them (eyeroll). The younger set loves to shop, we know that. Maybe not for groceries, but there is plenty of evidence that clothes shopping is a favorite pastime.

The question always begs to be asked: What do the faithful tithers think of the fact that the money they give to run the ministry is used to keep their pastors in expensive houses, cars and clothes when other fastidious ministers can't afford luxuries with the allowances given to them by their churches.

As I mused, a little light flickered on. I realized the tithers justify it as paying their pastors for services rendered. They think they are giving in obedience to God's word - or what they think they know to be God's word but all they are really doing is paying for something they want their pastors to do for them.

Their tithe:
1)pays for a bi-weekly commentary on the Bible (is it so they don't have to study it themselves?); 2)pays for a false sense of security as in a covering (if you are under the leader's canopy then Satan can't get to you as easily);
3)pays for their pastors to look successful so Christianity is attractive to non-believers, especially to those with money and position.

Much like Prince William and his new bride appear beautiful and dignified, the royal pastor clan must have an allure of importance and presence everywhere they go. The faithful tithers are paying for this assurance. They are paying to feel like they are important by association. I really have no bone to pick with them for doing so, other than this church claims tax exempt status as a 501 3 C non-profit organization. Seems like that fact alone could warrent that the money be used in ways to profit others beyond the pastor family.

As I pondered this, I couldn't help but remember what I had read in the Gospel of Mark earlier in the day about the rich young man who wanted to inherit eternal life. It paints such a different picture than my musings of pastoral affluence. Here's what I read:

The Rich and the Kingdom of God
17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. (19) You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”
20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! (25) It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”
27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
28 Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!”
29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel (30) will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. (31) But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

If Jesus wanted us to live like kings wouldn't he have said so? Instead he emphasizes how a rich lifestyle is in conflict with living for God. Of course, then I remember that those who believe in the prosperity doctrine use these same verses (29 and 30) as text to validate their position on the accumulation of earthly possessions - when in fact the text says if you sacrifice for God it will be made up to you somehow but not without earthly troubles. I think the key word there is 'sacrifice' and you certainly don't see a lot of that going on in prosperity gospel circles.

Oh well, at least my mini revelation helps me see why the faithful tithers keep giving to the black hole across town, and why the pastor leaders can sleep at night.

While I slave away vacuuming wood window blinds, I think it could be worse - I could be cleaning 2 houses instead of just one. (If I ever do that it will be for my parents who could use the help.) So today, I'm counting my blessings once again that I am free from the old world. Yes, I still think about it, processing the affects of being in there way too long. Even so, I'd rather be doing this than be in that orbit of delusion paying someone else to do and be something that I should have been doing and being for myself all along.

And I can't help but lament that I used to be there doing what they do. The old saying is so utterly true, "But for the grace of God, go I". Or how about "Once I was blind but now I see."?

No comments: