2 Corinth. 8: “The Jerusalem Relief Fund Prt. 1”

You’ve seen it. You’ve been there. And quite frankly it doesn’t effect you anymore. What am I talking about? Giving. Whether it’s idol threats of, “without your help, we’ll have to close;” all the way to images of (cue the music: “I Will Remember You”) dogs, cats, and horses shivering, wet, and cold; you have been relentlessly pursued to give.

Truth be told, I hate fundraising! I hate fundraising because I know the congregation hates fundraising. The congregation typically hates fundraising because of either their past experience, or what they’ve seen or heard from other people. One of the excuses that people give for not going to church is, “all they ever do is talk about money.” I honestly try to avoid talking about money unless its absolutely necessary, or unless it’s our annual “Blessed Life” Series were I unashamedly talk about God’s design for biblical stewardship. I say it every year and I’ll say it again here, “I don’t preach about money because I want something from you, I preach about money because I want something for you.”

The Power of One

When it comes to giving or teaching about giving, I’m a lot like Paul. There were times when Paul had to be stern, not for his sake, but for the spiritual growth of the people around him. Other times we find Paul excited to share the opportunity to give towards a note worthy cause.

Perfect Example: Each year as a church we are blessed with a strong vision for expanding God’s Kingdom through four key areas of ministry. We call this initiative Power of One. Jesus before his Ascension communicated to his disciples the strategy for spreading the Gospel. We read in Acts 1:8 what Jesus said to his disciples, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (NLT).” So the four key areas of funding are what we call our Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and Ends of the Earth ministries.

So each year we have our annual Power of One Sunday. This Sunday is not only a celebration of what God did through us to advance his Kingdom the year before, but it’s also a Sunday where we hear about how God plans to use us as a church in the coming year! Our goal is audacious and God sized every year, that way each year only God can get the glory for reaching the goal.

Coming up on Sunday, August 24th we’re celebrating 1% Sunday. Because God instructs each believer to bring 10% called Tithe (literally translated “a tenth”), we’re asking every household to bring 1% of their household income as their “Offering” (anything above tithe is offering). Our hope is to raise $53,150.00 on one Sunday!

I say all of this to show you a modern day version of what Paul in effect was trying to accomplish with the Corinthians.

The Jerusalem Collection

While Paul traveled during his ministry he always remembered and raised funds for the church in Jerusalem. Interestingly, Paul spent close to ten years soliciting funds for what is commonly referred to as the Jerusalem collection. This was a collection he took up among the Gentile churches to help Judean believers who were facing harder than usual economic times as a result of a famine during the mid to late 40s.

As I mentioned earlier, I hate fundraising, so I can’t imagine fundraising for close to ten years! If you think about it, a fundraising effort of this size requires enormous investments of time and energy. So yo have to ask yourself, why did Paul do it? For one, the need was genuine. The Jerusalem collection was first and foremost an act of charity. Paul understood that the situation in Jerusalem was dire. Famine, food shortages, double taxation, and overpopulation were just a few of the things going on in Jerusalem at the time.

As we close today here’s the takeaway and challenge: Paul saw a need and met a need, what need are you challenged to meet today?