Saturday, May 2, 2009

Give It Up

This cat at my church came to me the other day with a proposition.

Seems like the church used to have a Boy Scout troop before I joined, and they are getting it started again. As part of that effort, they are starting something called "Explorers" and the guy was asking me if I might be interested in participating.

I was shook.

No, it's not because I'm scared of the Boy Scouts and their late night campfires. Nah, I was shook because I thought he was asking me for another chunk of my steadily dwindling personal time, and I was trying to figure out a way to decline without feeling like I was cheating God.

When I first decided to write about Gandhi's social sins, the sin of "Religion Without Sacrifice," was the one topic I couldn't wait to tackle. This sin cuts to the core of what I see as one of the major plagues on mankind.

It's not because all religious folks are bad people, or because they all refuse to sacrifice. However, many of us religious folks have focused on sacrificing in the wrong areas, and instead of making the world a better place, we've screwed things up horribly.

Look, I know we (and by "we" I mean Christians, since that's all I really know) try hard. Most of the church folks I know are just trying to live their lives in a better way. Sure, there are bad apples, but as a whole, I've found that believers of all colors and economic backgrounds care about serving God and being decent people.

As long as it's not too hard.

That's the catch. It can't be too hard. And when I say hard, I don't mean that most Christians refuse to do difficult tasks. Many believers have jobs or hobbies that require them to risk life and limb to make the world better. Or they may give massive amounts of their time and money to volunteer efforts. No, what I mean is that while folks might do difficult tasks, that don't do tasks that are difficult for them.

Now that's sounds kind of screwy, so let me break it down. I once told me wife that I don't have a problem with compromising, I just have a problem with compromising on things I care about. If she wants ice cream and I don't particularly care about ice cream, we can have whatever flavor she likes. If she wants to go to the movies, and I don't care about what movie we watch, then I might get stuck watching The Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood. (That really happened.)

Compromise comes easy on those situation because I'm not sacrificing anything. I don't really care about the outcome, so anything can happen. But, when it's an issue that's important to me, like something involving a large outlay of my money, then I become so stubborn that mules passing me by on the street do a double take.

Our faith should push us to places where we are uncomfortable, it should have us constantly reevaluating our lives and how we are living them. In fact, I think the biggest sacrifice any Christian can make is to sacrifice "comfort."

My point is that not only is it important to make sacrifices in the name of God, it's important to make the right sacrifices.

It's not enough to sacrifice money, if time is the thing that's really valuable in your life. It's not enough to be at every function, if the thing you're really miserly about is your money.

Attempting to establish a deep personal relationship with God without being willing to give up things you hold dear is foolish...

Oh, and I agreed to do the Explorers thing at church. Turns out they didn't even need an additional time commitment from me.

Too funy.



That Girl said...

interesting. See...I work for the Girl Scouts. Which are not affiliated with the Boy Scouts. but everyone thinks we are. And though I think the BS did a heckuva job crafting my very handy eagle scout BF, I have serious (SERIOUS) issues with them. To the point of not donating to the United Way at one job I had because when push came to shove, they said they wouldn't support BS, but then they also fell victim to the "then you can't support GS either."

All said, you got me thinking about sacrifice. And how I never really thought about the "sacrifice" I was making to work for the GS. I saw all the benefits (ie, a paycheck...but so much more) but nowadays, I find myself biting my tongue a helluva lot about why I'm adamant that we're not them. And because I gain so much from my job (I think I mentioned that paycheck) I don't know if I see my "sacrifice" as a non-sacrifice or if I've really just become more and more of a CRID (Closet Republican in Denial) in my old age or if I just don't care anymore.

Thanks. I'm going to spend the best holiday in our country (National Scrapbooking Day) thinking about Boy Scouts. Explorers is a cool program though. You'll like it.

Freeman Press said...

I used to think the BS was well BS until my grandfather passed away. At his funeral one by one of about 50 kids came up to talk about how my grandfather helped them at a young age through him running the BS. So I know any help will help no matter what it is.

Onto sacrifice it's just the kind of help you provide from the heart doesn't return like a business would. You are helping people who don't realize you are helping so it might take 20 years to manifest in their lives. I always think that's why people don't help as much as they should its not because they don't want to it's because they don't get thanked for it. They know what they did but everyone needs a little pat on the back of appreciation.

Someone has to rebrand the word sacrifice because the word in and of itself is not attractive.

Deacon Blue said...

Boy am I guilty of this particular sin. A lot.

Big Man said...

Thanks for the good thoughts That Girl and Freeman.

I agree Freeman, sacrifice just sounds like something you don't want to do. It needs better PR. They need to talk to the people who work with squirrels. I've never seen rats so beloved...

Imhotep said...

Big Man, We differ. Giving is giving it should not be painful, and it should be from the heart. Why should someone be forced into a gift that is uncomfortable for them to give? If you have to hesitate before giving, should you really be giving? I think not.

If one is tight fisted with their money, and would prefer to give of their time, that should be fine. And vice-versa, if you have money and time is limited, well, give the cash.

I believe that giving should be stress free, works for me.

Big Man said...


I can undertstand your point.

I just think that when we stick within our comfort zone, we rarely challenge ourselves and we can become content with who were are as a person.

It's just like playing a sport. Sometimes you have to challenge and push yourself beyond what you think you can do, to accomplish something amazing.

Raving Black Lunatic