As we are starting to look at the budget for 2018, it has gotten me thinking about something. I have come to realize that each of us faces a crisis. Okay crisis might be too heavy a word but it got your attention didn’t it? I am not talking about a crisis of faith, nor am I talking about a crisis of leadership, nor a crisis of how the snow didn’t stick to the round outside today :-(. Instead I am talking about but a crisis of investment. Everyone in our church has a finite amount of resources and the question of where to invest them is incredibly difficult to answer.
Every day we have to decide how we are going to use those resources. We have to decide where to spend our time; we have to decide where to spend our talents; we have to decide how to spend our treasure; and we all have to decide where we are going to invest our ticker, our heart. That decision isn’t easy. If we decide to not decide we actually are making an active choice about where we are investing: ourselves.
To trivialize and simplify this question into the question, “do you give 10% to the church of everything you’ve been given” is to make a issue that is very grey into one that is black and white. There is certainly some debate around the %10 rule. I come from the perspective that it is a rule that doesn’t apply to followers of Jesus today. God doesn’t want %10 of your time, your gifts, your money, or your heart. God wants to be in relationship with all of you (10% is just training wheels for the rest of life). God wants us to lay all of our lives down, to be used for His Kingdom’s and Name’s sake. Our church can only bear God’s image the best that it can when everyone uses their gifts to glorify Him. Our finances will only ever be in line with God’s heart when we think about how we are using every last penny to move His Kingdom forward (from how much you give the homeless person on the street to how much you tip your waiter or the barista when you go out, from how much you spend on entertainment to how much of our annual budget goes to supporting people who are spreading the Gospel in parts of the world we can’t touch by ourselves).
But the thing that I want to focus on the most in this post is the question of our hearts. Investing your heart into something is a complicated task to be sure. It is complicated because investing your heart isn’t something that people discuss often. So let me ask 4 questions about the idea of investing our hearts.
What does it look like?
I think that one of the difficult pieces to investing your heart is the idea that I can’t just rip the organ out of my chest and give it to you. Instead, let me propose that investing our hearts looks like investing that which comes from them: our emotions. The Apostle Paul sums up this idea in his letter to the Romans by encouraging them to, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (12:15) Do you care about other people in God’s Kingdom, in our church, or in God’s creation enough that when they are happy you are able to be happy with them? What about when they are hurting, do you also hurt? The idea of caring for others also extends into the actions of caring for another as well. Do you feed those who are hungry by bringing them food, do you give water to the thirsty (either spiritually or physically), do you clothe those who are lacking, do you visit those who are going through a rough patch? (Matthew 25:35-36) The care you have for others shows how deeply and where you are investing your heart.
What is the return on my investment?
When we do care and invest our heart we receive (at least) 2 things.
First, we get the chance to reflect God’s care as shown through Christ to the world. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16-17) God’s love moved Him to action. By acting and investing your heart you are acting and investing just like God!
Second, by participating in extending the grace of God through Christ to the world we understand the love God has for us more fully. When I care for someone whose day is then brightened, I can physically see how the love God has for me has brightened my life. When I spend time planning a Marriage Retreat, or Gluten Free Baking, or my costume for Trunk or Treat, or food for the Fall Campout, or a Sunday Sermon I can physically experience the planning and patience it takes for God to work out His rescue plan for this world. Even when I love someone who doesn’t love me back, I can feel the pain that God feels when I shun Him…
What are the risks?
There are always risks involved when you invest something, and the trouble with investing something like your heart is that the risks run very deep. To care for someone and is to show them your heart and allow them the opportunity to shun your care. When this happens our hearts can become hard to others, our hearts can break, and it can cause so much pain in us that we are unable to care again. Those who have walked through this valley of despair will tell you that it looks like nothing is ever going to look right again. When there is no light at either end of the tunnel, and there is nothing to do but keep on putting one foot in front of the other, investing your heart looks like the silliest proposition that anyone ever encouraged you to do.
How the God interact with investing your heart?
No matter if things go right or if they fall apart, I think that God looks at the investment of your heart with an incredible amount of interest. The Bible speaks about how on our own our hearts are broken and hardened to God, but that God creates in us a new heart that has the old nature cut away and He has His law written on it. Your heart is a gift from God, investing it for His sake is the only thing that we can do. If the investment comes back to you and your love and care is able to bring a brother or sister back into the realization that God loves them, then the rejoicing that happens in Heaven is a party I am sad I have to miss. If your love and care returns with spite and so much anger that it inflicts fresh wounds on your heart, the knowledge that God was the one that fixed your heart in the first place can be a guiding light out of the tunnel of despair.
In all of this the only question that remains is how are you going to go about investing your heart in your life? Where are you going to invest your heart at our church?