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Historical Romance Author

Hypocrisy?

Hypocrisy?

If you’re like me, you might not know how to respond when you first see this picture. My initial reaction was “Yeah, we should help the poor. That’s what the church is supposed to be about.” You see, I’d rather give to missions, orphanages and disaster relief than another building project at church. It’d be nice if buildings weren’t necessary, so I sympathize with this thought. But the true test is what would Jesus say? And in fact, He did address a similar controversy.

Jesus was in Bethany eating dinner when a woman named Mary (not his mother) took a pound of expensive perfume and anointed his feet. That’s right, she poured out a fragrant oil worth approximately a year’s worth of wages and let it dribble onto the ground and be gone forever.

You might question her, too, as one disciple did. “Why wasn’t that sold and given to the poor?” ¬†And who could argue with him? Giving to the poor is good. Doesn’t that cause trump every other?

Not exactly.

Even more important than giving to the poor is showing God the honor due Him. Scandalous, huh? Let people go hungry before you skimp on your tribute to God? But Jesus saw the heart of the woman who gave. Her motive wasn’t to impress, it was to give her Savior something of value. To make an extravagant gift to her Lord.

And He saw someone else’s heart. The disciple who protested the gift…the “generous” man who claimed to care about the needy…was none other than Judas Iscariot. Judas managed the finances for Jesus and the disciples and he stole from their funds. Of course he resented money being given freely. He’d rather it pass through his coffers so he could take his share, and he only pretended to care for the poor in order to bring more money under his control.

Now, I don’t know the heart of this church, I don’t even know what church it is. They might have a wonderful outreach to the inner city, they might give millions to missions overseas. Either way, this building was built from money given voluntarily. It wasn’t my money. It wasn’t stolen from anyone. It went where the givers wanted it to.

So what do I think when I see this graphic? I pray that this facility is being used to God’s glory. I think of the stadiums, concert halls, and museums I’ve visited and wonder if the person who made the graphic above ever thought they should be dismantled and turned into soup kitchens. I reaffirm the right of people in a free country to donate wherever they want. And then I write my own check to help alleviate suffering in the world.

15 Comments

  1. Well said, Regina, and a subject close to my heart. God clearly loves beauty – he gave us plenty of it. It is right to give it back to him. Beauty incites awe and wonder and can inspire us to go out and show God’s love to the world. Thanks for a great post.

    • Thank you, Stephanie! Good point about beauty and the arts. If cathedrals, sacred music, literature and paintings weren’t attempted until hunger was extinguished, just think how barren our culture would be.

  2. I was part of a church renovation and people pledged to fund it. Unfortunately they bought expensive rugs, furniture and potted plants. Many stopped paying their pledge in disgust because lots of these people were struggling financially but thought the project went in the wrong direction. The church does support many missionaries, and projects but is giving the wrong message that it is an elite church. Churches are God’s house and should look nice but they shouldn’t look like an elite hotel. People may not support expansions if they are too elite and especially if people are hurting financially. We need His wisdom on how to spend His money.

    • Linda, if the church members felt like the money was being spent unwisely, then they absolutely have a right…nay, duty…to oppose it. I think your last sentence is the ultimate truth on the issue. “His money”…sums it up.

  3. I really like your take on this. I did not know how to respond when one of my friends posted this a few months ago. I think you are right on target with your feelings on this subject.

    • Thanks, Brittany. I appreciate you stopping by. Blessings!

  4. I think we Christian are often quick to accuse each other. It sort of falls into that “plank in your own eye” bit. When I went off to college, I remember looking at the massive college chapel and scoffing, wishing they’d spent a few more bucks on the library. I quickly learned the chapel was the heart of the campus. I was in tears when I had to say goodbye four years later.

    • Now, that’s a dilemma…a bigger church or a bigger library, LOL! Thanks for your insight, Karen. I know I wouldn’t have been in favor of building a cathedral back in 1300, but I’m sure glad someone did now.

  5. I’m glad to see someone confronting this stupid message. I’ve seen it before, and it’s ridiculous. We should rejoice that ANY church has reached so many people for Christ that they’ve grown large. I suppose the answer would be to keep our churches small and reach less people? Seriously? The really dumb thing is that most of these huge churches have great outreaches. In fact, it’s one of the reasons they’ve grown. Larger churches can reach more people for Christ, can feed more people, can help more people. There is a segment of Christianity that focuses on what they think everyone else is doing wrong. Whether it’s slamming certain teachers or certain churches, it’s divisive. I don’t think it pleases God. Thanks for bringing this up. As you can tell, this has really bothered me.

    • Nancy, I’ve seen this posted in several places, but not by other Christians, or at least their Pinterest boards wouldn’t lead me to believe they are. We shouldn’t let such claims (i.e. Christians don’t care about the needy) go unchallenged, even if they are posted by other Christians. Thanks for commenting.

  6. Regina, thank you for having a positive attitude on this subject. I have read all of your books and I appreciate your voice. The image behind the wording on your picture is from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints conference center located in Salt Lake City, Utah. I am a member of this church and some of my sixteen-year-old-minimum-wage income was donated to construct the building.

    The building was constructed to be serve the 14+ million members world wide by increasing the number of people that could attend our bi-annual conference. Twice a year, the leaders of the church instruct the members – and anyone else interested – in how to be more charitable, more Christ-like, and more compassionate. The meetings are two days long – held in April and October and tickets to such events are always free. When conference is not in session, the building is utilized to strengthen the talents of those nearby and provide clean and wholesome entertainment.

    I understand the argument that monies to build such a building should be used to feed the poor. But I also believe that we are all poor – or beggars in the sight of God. I have plenty of food and resources, but I am continually desperate for the word of God, His spirit, and His mercy.

    I am grateful for buildings and spaces dedicated to His words. Spaces dedicated to God and the lessons I learn within those walls inspire me to give more freely to those that surround me. I love learning about various religions and the honor they give to God, and I hope that as believers in Christ we would work together to help the poor… instead of judging one another for the way in which we do so.

    I believe that believers of Christ can stand firm together despite our various denominations. We can accomplish so much more when we are united than we ever will divided.

    • Thanks for sharing the history and purpose of this building with us, Angie. This meme was pinned on Pinterest and shared on several different agnostic boards (and I’m judging that by their other pins) along with other memes that criticized and ridiculed the church. As the LDS church is well-known for its generosity, I’d imagine that the people who built this building give more to charity than the average citizen. Why not make a picture of a movie theater with the same caption “Entertainment – Because this is more important than feeding the starving.”? To start a conversation about charity with a jab at the religious is to ignore the reality of who gives in this country.

      Thanks again for your comment and information. I appreciate it.

  7. Well said.

  8. Regina– great post.
    Our church is currently undergoing a huge building project to construct and entire facility that will house our children’s and youth ministries. While there’s been debate within the church over this project for several years now, the point of the building is not to impress the community or to waste money, but to build a facility that serves the members of the church and serves as an outreach to the community. Do we support local and international missions? Absolutely. But we also have to be able to support the needs of the church members, and sometimes facilities, like the one pictured above, serve their purpose by allowing families to get involved in the church (in our case, by providing safe, efficient childcare) and draw people in from the community. Imagine how that facility above can be an outreach– not just for worship for the church members, but for use by the community for various events, etc. While we serve those who are most in need, we also have to be able to serve our brothers and sisters in Christ right where we are. Sometimes we need a new facility to do that. I don’t believe God is disappointed when we’re properly using what we have to glorify Him and bring the lost to Christ.

  9. I’m glad you addressed this, Regina. How silly to think that constructing a building large enough to fit an entire church body is somehow a waste of money. Should the church kick people out when there are too many for the current building? This picture is a silly, shortsighted, and ignorant attempt to malign believers.

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