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Giving-money-receiveOverhearing other people’s conversations can be dangerous! I stood in our church office and overheard someone talking about our benevolence giving.

“But is it reaping a return? Do any of these people ever come back and be part of the church?”

That short moment of eavesdropping changed how I view life and church. Do you give in order to receive?

We are all guilty of it. We work hard all week, but if all we get are negative reviews, we feel cheated and let down; or we stay with a family because it is our job, and hope that when this crisis is over they will become stalwart members of the congregation. We give to a woman in need and then feel let down when she doesn’t bring her kids on Sunday.

Giving isn’t the problem. We need to give as God calls us. Hoping that people will become more involved in church and intimate with God is also right. But connecting the two—giving in order to get—doesn’t work.

Imagine Jesus hanging on the cross—not so He could pave the way for God to reach into humanity, dwell with humanity permanently in the form of His Spirit (giving to open relationship and give more); but so that we would want to spend more time trying to find God (giving to get). That wouldn’t have worked.

As you walk through this Passion Week, I want to encourage you—God didn’t call you expecting from you—He wants to work through you. Here are some things to consider:

  • If people don’t show up to every event, cheer them on for choosing family and relationships over ritual. (You will surprise them.)
  • Ask people what they’ve heard from God lately instead of congratulating them for the good choice of coming to church on Easter (or pointing out that you’ve missed them the rest of the year).
  • Find ways to remind people that God is currently active in their lives, even if they don’t “get” church.
  • Relax. This is a long week in our tradition, and it was an even longer week when Jesus walked it the first time. Look for Jesus in the surprising places. Is He teaching in Starbucks? Walking down Main Street? Take a moment to listen to what He is saying in these public places. When people show up on Sunday, your words will make a deep impact—because they are God’s.

God really is active in the world today. He is drawing people to Himself. It might look like they come to church to get immediate needs filled and then walk away, but they could have chosen the Rotary Club or Social Services. Sometimes they choose the church because we are an “easy mark” (thus the need for good policies)—but every encounter they have with you is one they are having with Jesus. He is drawing them, He is working in them.

Think about the boy with the lunch. He gave what he had and saw Jesus turn it into a bountiful harvest. This week, I encourage you to give God’s love with an open hand and watch Him do mighty miracles.

Kim Martinez is an ordained Assemblies of God pastor with a Masters of Theology from Fuller Seminary. She is a ministry and life development coach, and can be found online at www.deepimprints.com. She writes a weekly column for ministrytodaymag.com.

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