Practical Theology

I was thinking about my post on Isaiah 2 and the topic of sanctification. In fact, I couldn’t get it out of my head.

I do really enjoy studying the Bible, theology, and doctrine. I was raised on it really as my dad trained to be a pastor. He never actually practised though and stopped short of ordination for various reasons, but it was our meat and drink as I was growing up.

But here is the thing. What does it matter if I am ‘sanctified’, ‘justified’, ‘saved’ or have ‘eternal life’ to look forward to? In the here and now, life is hard, and horrible and increasingly so. Theology shouldn’t really just be a distraction from real life.

My own situation is this: I’m at home after a bad relapse of chronic illness, but I don’t get any kind of disability benefit, and my son who did get it just had notification that it’s being denied him this year. My husband, who does work, is on the minimum wage. If we want to carry on eating and paying rent, we’ll need to dig really deep to find places to trim the budget. I’m grateful that food banks are available, but it isn’t enough to raise us out of poverty and misery, and really it is no way to live.

I have written before about the scandal of inequality in the Church – the enormous wealth of the comfortable classes and the appalling spectrum of poverty (even just here in the UK, let alone in third world countries) and really it is far, far too easy to just sit back and believe that God blesses whom He wants to bless, and that if you’re not blessed with material comfort, there must just be some fault in you – you’re in sin, you’re faithless, you must deserve it in some way. I.e., “it is not my responsibility to do anything about it.” No, no, no, no, no!

The early church seemed to have behaved quite differently with their finances than the modern, western, wealthy church. Apparently they held what amounted to a common purse –

“They held all things common”

Those who had plenty sold their excess and gave to those who needed it, so that there was no lack among them. (See Acts 2:44-47.)

In the book of Malachi we read:

“Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts.”

The LORD tells Israel that they have neglected His House, that is, their duty to financially provide for the Levites (the priestly tribe of Levi) who were dependent on subsidies from the rest of Israel. He challenges them that, by not giving, they are robbing God!

But, if they are willing to give, the windows of heaven will be opened to them.

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” Malachi 3:10

Try it! I challenge you! As we were reminded on Sunday, you can’t ‘out-give’ God! And then perhaps, as we repent, and turn back to God – turn all our finances over to God, perhaps then the church, and our land will be healed and restored so that nobody is under the curse of poverty.

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