Occasionally, I have to take my mother’s tithe to church. My mother’s faith is such that she fails to reach church only for reasons of near-death illness or campmeeting, which is only going to church in another place. Much like the postman – rain, snow, wind, or shine – a tidy, sealed envelope containing 10% of her earnings will go off toward the steeple. The money that she works a little too hard for and doesn’t have enough of goes off, presumably for a good cause.
What I’m always struck by, however, is that I have to get out of the car and find a human being to give the money. Why?
Let’s break this down a bit.
Why do I have to give the money to a person?
I remember when I was still a Christian, I couldn’t understand how people couldn’t figure out that certain religious claims were untrue. I mean, it wasn’t that hard. I had heard stories about how ancients would throw food into a room that was reserved for the gods and I thought, “How don’t they know that that’s untrue? You can literally see the food there the next day and know that a god didn’t eat it, because it’s STILL THERE.”
In much the same vein, I think Christians can do a similar test with their god. I wonder why they bother to find a person to give the money to at all. Perhaps it would be too much to ask of their god. At any rate, it doesn’t make sense if we take into account what Christians believe about him:
1. They believe that, while existing outside of space and time, he can affect things within space and time.
They believe that he can part physical seas, send actual floods, and in a little while, burn all the non-believers like me with some good ol’ fashioned hellfire. So why exactly would he not be able to pick up an envelope addressed to him? Are you afraid to put his abilities to the test? Gideon wasn’t. Elijah wasn’t. Abraham wasn’t.
2. They believe that God sees all, and is in control of everything.
Romans 8:28 reminds us: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Notwithstanding that we have been over how this tramples on free will, the point is that many Christians credit God with the money that they receive to give back to him. If he sees all and knows all and all is done according to his purpose, why would you fear leaving his tribute on the doorstep of your church?
3. One last argument that Christians use is that God works through people. But surely he doesn’t NEED to, right? Like, the god who sees all, knows all, controls all, needs Secretary Hucks to put his money away for him. Maybe he just doesn’t do his own light work.
At this point, I’d like the reinstitute the high level poetic snark dripping from Elijah when he challenged the prophets of Baal. While they danced around the altar and even cut their own bodies to appease their god, Elijah was throwin’ some serious shade:
At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened. (1 Kings 18:27)
I’d like to end with a challenge, if I may. I dare Christians to take their hard earned money, put it in a tithe envelope, and send me a time, date, and location. Between the omnipotent creator God and a dude driving speed limit the whole way, I’d like to see who gets to that money first.
More on this on Friday: Why are humans entrusted with this task, anyway?
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