Last night, I was in an Administration and Finance Committee meeting and I believe I left with a question that will keep me pondering for some time. We were citing some of the verses in scripture, particularly those that deal with outrageous generosity and the call of Jesus to give and give some more. We noted that these verses were difficult to reconcile with church budgets and our responsibility to be good stewards and plan for the future.
That got me thinking about not only the financial things that Jesus said...but all of the hard things that Jesus said. Was he serious? And, can the institutional church really live by the principles of faith that he put forth?
If someone strikes you on the cheek, can we really turn the other also? How does that apply to national security? How does that apply to protecting ourselves and our stuff?
When he tells us not to worry about our life or what we will eat or drink, what does he mean? Should we not plan? Should we not be responsible?
Was he serious about cutting off your hands and feet if they cause you to sin?
Was he serious about forgiving people 77 times...and how do we keep track of that?
Was he serious about "go, sell your possessions, and give your money to the poor? And, if so, what does that mean for us as individuals? Does it suggest anything about how big our houses should be or how many cars we should have or how many vacations we should take? Does it suggest anything to our churches about how our buildings are used, how we address needs, and what our priorities are?
And, perhaps the question that haunts me most of all is "Is the institutional church capable of living the faith that Jesus laid out?" I honestly don't know the answer to that.