Not long ago the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge swept through the social media world like wildfire. People responded to the fun challenge and besides dousing themselves in ice water, gave millions of dollars to help fund research to help find a cure for ALS.
Did you know that Jesus gave an even bigger challenge 2,000 years ago that also went viral? It was the HS Fire Bucket Challenge. Sound dangerous? It’s extreme, but it won’t burn you.
Jesus’ challenge also had to do with money, and how we give it to help others. Before we look at the challenge he gave let’s look at what he said leading up to the challenge:
Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!…“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it….“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.
Luke 12:22-24, 27, 29 NIV
Evidently, in Jesus’ time, people worried about money just as much as today. Keep in mind these are people who had no iPhone, cable tv or Xbox. They had to actually work for their money, not click a mouse all day. It wasn’t so easy to “just trust God” for their income. Jesus said to stop worrying, because his Dad was happy to give them his best. He said that the animal kingdom doesn’t plant or reap crops (like his listening audience), but they seem to do okay. He also pointed out that birds don’t save for tomorrow and they do just fine.
At first glance this seems to go against all of our Christian teaching regarding financial management. Don’t throw away your books from Crown Financial and Dave Ramsey, because the Bible tells us to be good money managers and plan ahead. The point is to not even let good financial stewardship consume your heart and let your bank account become your source of security or meaning.
Jesus went on to tell us that we shouldn’t get obsessed with wearing the coolest most expensive clothes or dining at the finest restaurants. In other words, he said to not make spending more money and shopping our greatest heart’s desire. He said that his Dad wants to give us true riches from his kingdom. He’s talking about the best things in life. The best things in life aren’t things, and you can’t buy them with money. What is this great Kingdom stuff he referred to? His extreme challenge points to the answer:
Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:32-34 NIV
Jesus tells us in this verse to give our best to the least. In his economy, giving is actually it’s own reward. He doesn’t say here that if you give to the poor, then you get a new car or flatscreen tv. He said that we will get true riches. What are true riches?
The best things in life aren’t things, and you can’t buy them with money.
Jesus is describing a deep, generous life that is about loving others, not a shallow life of consuming for our own pleasure. When we give, we get God’s character. We get connected to the source of all good. We get to be a vessel that he can pour through. We get to partake in his divine nature.
After Jesus rose from the dead, the believers gathered to pray. On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came and what did people do? They sold their possessions and gave the money to the poor. When a bucket of Holy Spirit fire fell on them, they couldn’t resist the urge to love others the way that God was loving them. (See illustration of Day of Pentecost at left.)
This challenge Jesus gave is not symbolic. This means that we should take something we own and sell it on Craigslist or Ebay. Then we can take the money we made and instead of buying some more stuff for ourselves, give it to the poor.
Pray right now and ask God what you should sell. Take a picture of the item and post it on Craigslist or eBay for sale. Ask God who you should give this money to. Give it the way God shows you to, in a way that gives dignity, not shame. Consider giving anonymously to keep your motives pure. (Matthew 6:1-8)
I will risk half my anonymity, but lead by example by selling this fretless bass guitar (pictured right). You know about it, but the people receiving the finances won’t. They are a married couple who are homeless, senior citizens and disabled. Interested in a bass? Contact me at email@example.com or check it out on Craigslist here.
Will you join me and take the Holy Spirit Fire Bucket Challenge? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Flame on!
Conflict of interest disclaimer: part of my job at New York City Relief is raising funds to help the poor and homeless… and I love it.
Posted under Uncategorized