Jun 6, 2011

Giving Away Your Best

I’ve been thinking about this Wimberism a lot lately. John taught us to give away our best. It is one of those sayings that can either be just a nice platitude or it can really shape everything you do. In retrospect I think it is something we’ve done intentionally and unintentionally in our years with the Vineyard. So I want to offer a few observations about giving away your best.

It hurts. I’ll start with the hard obvious one. We all love the stories of how we give away our savings or a worship leader only to have God turn around and give you something even better. I’ve certainly had quite a few of those experiences. But the bottom line is that you never give to get. And sometimes you don’t get something to replace what you’ve given away. That doesn’t mean you missed God, that means you gave away something really costly. When you get it back it didn’t cost you anything. But when you don’t get it back you can experience a whole different kind of blessing. The blessing of pain. And I am not being facetious, this is a blessing. I don’t think we’d treasure near as much the moments when God gives back if there was never moments when God just accepted our offering. And it becomes too easy to take for granted the gifts you have when they are disposable.

We’ve given up quite a few worship leaders over the years. I was listening to a CD from one of them today even. I wouldn’t give up the time they spent with us blessing us with the gift of heartfelt worship in song. But how much more do I value the gift we’ve given to the church in Ottawa through our obedience. The worship leader I was listening to today has been training worship leaders for another church in the city – he could never have done that if we weren’t willing to embrace the pain of giving him up. Giving away your best hurts.

Would you want to give God anything less? I really think that we need to have this perspective about giving away the best. When we give it is really as an offering to God. I’m reminded of Paul’s words to the church in Rome about what a reasonable act of worship is. Presenting ourselves as living sacrifices means there is no holding back. Whatever God wants is what we give. And anything less is really not an acceptable gift for so great a King. This needs to apply to everything about our lives. God calls us to what theologians call a cruciform life. That is a life shaped and marked by the selfless giving of God’s self through the cross. To be cruciform is to emulate this by offering ourselves fully and completely to God. I think Paul is right, this is the only reasonable act of worship.

Whose Kingdom is it anyway? This is really what it comes down to. We sometimes have this notion that the Kingdom of God is something we build. It isn’t. Sure we get to participate in what God is doing. But the Kingdom is all God’s. So we are really only ever giving what is God’s. It hurts because it is shaping us. It is true worship because it makes us into God’s cruciform people. We give away the best because, that is what the Kingdom looks like. The Kingdom is the selfless love of God made manifest. It can never look like our own selfish little kingdoms. It has to look like Jesus, through and through.

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