All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need. Acts 4:32-35
Do you know how Mother’s Day began? An executive at Hallmark decided that producing this manufactured holiday would increase their giving card sales during a slow period of the year. Father’s Day followed. In an attempt to copy these successes, candy companies followed suit and tried to make “Candy Day.” (Un)Fortunately, this holiday did not take off.
Today is supposedly called #GivingTuesday, or so my Twitter feed claims.
Embracing the strategies of our consumeristic lifestyles, we have diluted true generosity into a marketing ploy that tries to piggyback off of our leftover shopping.
Having over-stuffed ourselves on ThanksgivingThursday, we lined up outside the big box stores on BlackFriday; feeling guilty that our glut is eroding local businesses we developed SmallBusinessSaturday; and somehow, employees, upon returning to their high-speed internet work stations after a long holiday weekend, have found time to surf for sales on CyberMonday…squeezed in there we made SinSunday (but don’t twitter search that NSFW).
So, to capstone an over-stuffed, over-saturated, over-spent week, we have decided that the leftover space on our credit cards should go to help somebody…somewhere…somehow.
What would it look like if instead of reducing generosity to a single day we made it a lifestyle? What would it look like instead of ending the week, we began our days with a generous spirit? What would it look like for there to “be no needy persons among them” as the Acts church inspires us to become?
I recently read that the world produces enough grain to give each person 3,500 calories worth per day. Adding in meats, vegetables and fruit, there is enough food for every person to have 4.3lbs per day. Therefore scarcity is not the issue, it’s distribution.
The church used to play this role of provider and distributor, but unfortunately, it has abdicated its responsibility to governments and corporations, which largely center their giving on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.
The church was once the founder of schools, developer of hospitals, caretaker to orphans, assistant to widows, producer of the arts…but has divested from these institutions. Consider the impact that the church could generate if it did not reduce giving to a day (or to its stewardship season) but re-embraced its original intent.
The first non-Biblical description of the church by a non-Christian came in the 3rd Century by Lucan, a Roman citizen who described Christ-followers as:
“Their absurd generosity and their sacrificial concern for others whom they didn’t even know by name.”
Is your generosity absurd or calculated? Is your concern sacrificial or manufactured?