I have recently heard of many cases where there’s an issue that is the primary force of exclusion in many Churches—ones that are notorious for these sorts of issues. Could you guess what issue this is? It’s a monetary issue; it’s tithing.
There is a Church near my hometown that demands its parishioners to turn in proper documentation of their income in order for the Church committee—well, let’s just be honest here, the pastor—to evaluate how much that each particular individual or family should be tithing. I recently got my hands on a pamphlet from this particular Church that claimed the tithe wasn’t going to the Church; NO! —Their tithing went to Jesus.
Now I for one find this to be quite incredulous. Why? Because, of course the money goes to the Church! It has bills to pay, repairs to keep up with, etc. etc. And ministries don’t fund themselves.
Am I saying it is wrong to give to a Church? Of course not, I tithe in my local Church. But let’s not be deceived as to whom we are giving our funds to. And any Church organization that would demand its parishioners to turn in their documented income is quite suspicious. There seems to be no trust involved, no relating. Just dominating. The pastor dominating the flock—an angry god demanding those in attendance to be financial stewards, under that Church’s specifications no less. But I find in Christianity, a different view of God.
Instead of an angry god at the top of the pyramid, raining down demands on people to give him (and this god is always a male) their hard-earned money, or else, I find the God revealed in Christ to be at the tip of an inverted pyramid. Where God is served by serving the ones at the bottom and not at the top.
This inversion is precisely what is revealed during Advent. A God is found, revealed fully, in a peasant man, not a high and mighty king. A man that was homeless, beaten, starved, abused, whipped, mocked, hated, and crucified. In fact, this man said it the best himself in Matthew 25; he is the least of humanity; and what we do for the least, we do for God.
This means that to really tithe our money straight to Jesus is to give to the homeless, poor, suffering sisters and brothers in our world today. And tithing in Church should always be centered around these people, because they are the ones that Jesus came and offered the Good News for (Luke 4:18). That’s the role of the Church, that’s where her funding should be focused.
If we want to find Jesus, we must go to the shelters, prisons, jails, and suffering. We can’t just keep paying an oppressive structure to keep our names engraved on a pew. To serve God is to serve those under us, and it would do good for a lot of us to embody this practice daily.