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?
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.