The Tithe - the Boon of Pastors, the Bane of the Gospel - 'PTAD' - Part II
What We Have Created is a Modern Priest Class!
Do We Really Know Where the Money Goes?
Once upon a time I was known as an upper 5% faithful tither and life was just grand; as long as the money kept rolling in. Little by little I began to notice that there were some major inconsistencies within the churches I had attended, The needs of the flock were not even secondary, but consigned to the lowest of priorities within the church. Deacon funds were there to meet the emergency need for a loaf of bread, baby food, etc., IF the monies were available. I witnessed the money drive for a new $60,000 grand piano have priority over young lady struggling with the deductible for her dialysis treatments. Families struggling to put food on the table and the deacon fund having a limit of $50 per family per month. Oh, I am sure that the fund was a small one and needed to be judicially handled, but where is the priority of the church? Something about - "...they will know that we are Christians by our love for one another..."; oh, that's right, we are known for shooting our own wounded. Has anyone stopped to think for a moment, that we have created man made temples and staffed them with a modern day priest class of employee that should never know economic hardship, all the while the sheep they are to be feeding, struggle in ways they will never fully comprehend and starving at the same time for the lack of the Word being in its fullness.
The disease has even infected the missionary field. One family wrote to the missionary committee of a church I attended that many of the people who had pledged were not being faithful and they were having to dip into their own savings to make ends meet. They were counting on using their savings when their stint in the field was complete to help them buy a home when they returned to the states. A cost free service for the Lord, how American.
What is the Motivation for Tithing - to Get?
The Number of Rich and Famous Pastors Continue to Grow.
The Tithe - Pastoral Redistribution of Wealth Plan.
One day as I was on a job site installing an accounting system for a very exclusive furniture and accessories dealer (interior designers only) in the Southern California area, a very well known and respected Christian pastor, author, radio and TV celebrity, came in with his wife and their interior decorator to purchase a dining room set and drapes. When they left, they had purchased $50,000 worth of dining room furniture and drapes; that included the designers 30% discount off of the store's price plus the 10% markup for the designer's commission. You do the math. I am sure that everyone who attends his mega-church, buys his books and gives to his ministry believe he deserves every penny he gets. It is America after all; we think if someone is rich, they are blessed. I have trouble finding that verse in scripture, but I am sure God is greatly honored by one of His own living in such deserved wealth. Wait a minute, do I remember a verse about the poor being rich in the things of the Lord. Oh, I guess it doesn't apply here in America.
And, we wonder why the church is failing so badly in our testimony as the world looks on at the wealth being garnered by the name-it-and-claim-it or the blab-and-grab-it crowd.
I use statistics in my work but I hate statistics when I know that they are being used as a propaganda tool to control the thinking of the masses. As the chart above demonstrates, tithers have less debt, greater net worth and are just plain happier because they have more money. We have the give to get mentality in this country and yet the poor among us, within the real Church, continues to grow. They say it is a form of worship, to make building and utility payments, pastor's salaries, their Social Security taxes, the best insurance money can buy, long vacations and all the while maintaining their non-profit status as a 501(c)3 corporation. Churches pour money into youth programs and yet statistics show that more and more youth are leaving the church. Do you wonder if money affects our wisdom and judgment, I know it did mine.
You don't have to wonder where the Word went when it stopped being preached and taught in season and out: just follow the money. When you are owned by the biggest tithers, the preaching is very careful not to upset the cash flow and to keep the majority, whether Christians or not, blissful and undisturbed in their current life style. It is kind of funny; usually the local congregation knows who the biggest sugar daddies are and yet our giving is to be autonomous.
So what does the Word say about the tithe? On to Deuteronomy.
Per God, the Tithe was to be a Feast.
The Tithe was to be a Feast Before the Lord!
Truly, I must be mistaken; we have been told our whole "church" lives that we are to give ten percent on a regular basis so that the priest class among us does not have to work for a living as do the rest of the masses, for we are uneducated in the holy things of God. We are to bring the unsaved into our holy assemblies for they are the only ones who can really present the Gospel effectively. Enough tongue-in-cheek.
The Tithe: Deuteronomy 14:22-29
- It was an annual event.
- It was to be consumed as a feast before the Lord in a place He designated.
- If this place was too far to carry your tithe, you were to convert it into money then go and purchase your heart's desire in food and drink and consume it before the our God to honor Him for the blessing received.
- In this feast you were to include the priest class, the Levites, for they had nothing with which to feast.
- This you would do for two years and on the third year you would not travel but have this feast within your own home.
- Again, the Levites within your town must not be forgotten but one thing was different; you were to include the strangers in your midst and the widows and orphans as a testimony of the goodness of God to you and your family.
The tithe was never an offering but a feast of worship and testimony to the goodness of our Lord. Again, we have turned something sacred into a tradition of men. We do not have all things in common for the good of all for we neglect the "...weightier matters of the Law, judgment, mercy and faith...". We have few leaders that toil in the Word for their flocks and many that justify their church budgets resulting in billions of dollars on an annual basis that will never reach the needy within their own members nor reach the true missionaries in the field that know the cost of serving.
I believe the time is upon us when we will not be giving to the church but will be forced by God to meet the true Church's need to survive. We have played at church for far too long and the games are starting to grow stale, but whom the Lord loves, He chastens.
Once upon a time, Angola was the largest Christian nation in Africa, with over 300 churches and about 300,000 followers. Then in the 1970's came the rebellion and the Cubans along with the East Germans set about to destroy the Church. They burned every church they could find and at times the body counts were in the hundreds. The Church retreated to the bush. Ten or so years later, when the majority of the Cubans and East Germans had died of AIDS, the Church re-emerged from the bush. Strangely, there was now over 1.5 million believers and hundreds of fellowships. One true pastor during those years in hiding, ministered to over 20 churches, 7 days a week: severe persecution had fostered a revival that the organized church could never have brought about.
The true Church is not about organization alone, but about the need for one another and demonstrating the love of God to an unbelieving world. The American system of tithing has brought about the rise of the false prophets, for there is money to be made; it has taken the Word out of the pulpits for the fear of offending the rich and it has made the average church-goer lazy and indifferent to the Gospel; let the professional holy men do the work. When it has come to money, we have blown it in a major fashion: the traditions of men and corporate logic rule the day.
Next: Part III - The doctrine of acceptance!