Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A New Dimension of Sacred Space: Generous or Cheap?

Ever since going to the Stewardship Conference in Orange County called "Exponential" the notion of God as the ultimate example of Generosity will not go away. All that God does is generous. All that we know about God demonstrates extravagant generosity. When we encounter God, we are bowled over by his grace, love, mercy, hope, healing, etc......generosity.
When people get grabbed and transformed by God, one dimension that emerges is a generous spirit. Nowhere is "stinginess" listed as a spiritual gift. When you look at scripture and see the Gifts of the Spirit at work, generosity is always in the background driving them: hospitality, charity, mercy, forgiveness, contribution, etc. Because of what God has done in me, I have more than I need and share what I have with others.
Cheapness, however, creeps around as well. Often in the church in the guise of being good stewards. But it isn't stewardship, it's miserliness. Cheapness operates on the spiritual assumption that what I have is not sufficient and you have more than I do....and I really deserve what you have. Cheapness is the hand outstretched to take, not to give, it's the attitude of what's in it for me, not what more can I give. Cheapness has the attitude that I can always find a deal and whittle down the price of everything and everyone. Cheapness operates on the assumption that I am special and entitled to breaks and privileges unlike everyone else. Cheapness loves to be subsidized and underwritten. Cheapness is exhausting and tiring. There is little peace and gratitude. Nothing is ever quite enough. Cheapness is not sacred, and the sacred is not cheap. 
When people encounter generosity, are they also not encountering a fundamental dimension of the sacred? When people encounter the cheap, are they also not encountering the profane?


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