On the Receiving End – Chapter 38
How do I go about asking for help? I had never heard a sermon titled, “10 Tips for Asking Your Neighbor to Do Something for You,” or “Ask and You Shall Receive…From Your Friend in the Next Pew,” or “Be a Receiver…It’s What God Expects of You.” Never had the plate been passed full of money and people invited to take money out if they needed it. Even our culture has preached, “’Tis better to give than to receive,” even though that may be a Christmas slogan drilled into Americans since the Sears & Roebuck catalog was carried across the wide prairies of the frontier. The church has never taught believers how to receive.
Well, not never. When Paul the Apostle took Jesus seriously about taking the news that a savior had come to all corners of the earth, pockets of believers banded together throughout the known world. They were so overjoyed to feel the security of everlasting life and a God who forgave them that these early followers sold their goods, held things in common and met every day for a meal and prayer. Not everyone was a giver, but EVERYONE was a receiver.
Later Paul explained that believers can behave and interact like a body – some are hands, some are feet, some are hearts, some are heads. All are needed and the giving and receiving is in balance in the Kingdom of God. Even then, a hierarchy was developing that decided the left brain was the body part that was top dog.
So that by the time it came to post-WWII 1950s Southern California where I grew up, learning to lead and serve became the mission of the church. Men were to lead; women to serve, and we made idols out of Major Donors and it was a sign of weakness to be in need, possibly the result of sin. Being on the receiving end became a cause for deep shame.
So the church began to separate the givers from the receivers. The receivers got farther and farther away. Naked tribes in Africa, starving children in China who wished they could eat our brussel sprouts, Mexican orphans living at the city dump and the weirdest, farthest away receiver of all – an unborn fetus. Could any giving be less balanced than that? In the meantime, Bibles were smuggled behind the Iron Curtain and banned from our own school districts.
This gulf of separation between the givers and receivers has created a distortion of the Kingdom of God. So pronounced is the belief that God loves the giver more than the receiver that it’s common now to hear that a life with Christ will result in prosperity, high status, political dominance, expensive clothes and hot cars. Christians in need can ask of God, but not so much their Sunday School class.
How was I supposed to find a “sitter” for Mike?