Monday, April 2, 2007

Giving Back to God?

Every now and then I hear the phrase “giving back to God.” Normally it is in the context of the passing of the plate, or some other church-related offering. In that context (or any other for that matter), it strikes me as an odd phrase.

First, I don’t believe I have anything that God doesn’t already own. So “giving to God” seems like a weird idea in itself. But the notion of “giving back” makes it even weirder. Did God give me something and now wants it back? That doesn’t sound like God.

Ok, maybe what is actually meant is this: God has given me so much, not just my money and other material blessings but also life and salvation, including his one and only Son who died on the cross for me. In return, the very least I can do is drop a few dollars in the collection plate. This, it seems to me, is the most ludicrous and grotesque idea imaginable.

The way I figure it, when Jesus died on the cross, he removed all my debts and obligations. I now owe him nothing! I'm sorry if that sounds radical, but I think that’s the way he wants it. There’s nothing I am obligated to give him, and there is nothing I can give him. We both have everything. I have everything in Jesus. And Jesus got everything he wanted when he reconciled me (and the whole world) to himself. Anything further we might do for each other is just for fun.

In the meantime, there are people and organizations who need my gifts.

So I give to my local church, some para-church groups, some charities and (on occasion) to individuals in need.

But I never give to God.

And I certainly never give back to God.

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