There are those who should no better who treat missions/mercy, congregational stewardship and District needs as a zero sum game. What we give to mercy work overseas must reduce the pot of money that is available to the local congregation and Pastor. It is an interesting stewardship concept. Jesus has some words about it – like “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38
I want to go back and talk about that glorious statement that when we treat a “chronic problem like a crisis our help becomes toxic” That is from Lupton’s book by the same name “Toxic Charity”. In a church that had a revolution in mercy since Matthew Harrison published “Lord Have Mercy” it was a bit surprising to see the exuberance of the handouts of books that had the opposite vision. Also in a church that is always worried about money the number of these books was alarming. I have 11 copies of Lupton. I have five copies of “When Helping Hurts” by Corbett and Fikkert. Now let’s say these books cost $10. I have $160 worth of books that on Amazon are a part of a sponsored link to the American Cancer Society, another charity that treats a chronic problem like a crisis.
Hunger is a chronic problem. Human beings get hungry at regular intervals. When I complained about not wanting to take a bath my reasoning was that I got dirty again. My mother would say that she would no longer feed me because I just got hungry again. Both her and my position seemed reasonable at the time but I accepted hers because I like to eat. But let’s suppose my mother accepted my proposition and did not ask, request, or coerce me to ever take a bath again. It would not take very long for others to notice and some other pressure would be brought to bear that would make a reasonable person decide to take a bath. The care that we exhibit for others is compelled by the Gospel and unbelievable mercy of God for us poor miserable sinners. I may have a sanction to do nothing, although I do not think that is what the authors of these books are saying, but the imperative to do something is motivated by the Gospel. When other imperatives come in such as Pastors sermons about “home mission”, the chronic need of others is subsumed by the chronic need of the local congregation. Why it is a chronic need is another topic.