Pay it Off
"I had always thought that Christians were supposed to stop sinning and attend church, so they could then donate money to the pastor so he could lead people into a relationship with God. Some of these radical college students I met actually wanted to be a part of serving others personally rather than paying someone else to do it." Eric Bryant, Peppermint Filled Pinatas.
A little bit cynical maybe, but Eric makes a very good point here. He's talking about when he was in college and met some people who went to Baylor who acted out their faith differently than some people he knew who were cultural Christians who seemed to attend church and live, we can assume, in hypocrisy.
This is one of the most frequent charges I hear against the church and her people. They say one thing on Sunday, and live another way the rest of the week. There are hypocrites everywhere because there are people everywhere. People are human and will always fail you in one sense or another, so finding some hypocrisy in a group of people should not be surprising. Also, it's much easier to dismiss a message that is difficult to hear if it requires changes and action by you, not just criticism. It something that Christians should be very aware of and should work to change if they can.
It's even more challenging once you've accepted the basic tenets of Christianity. This personal charge to change the way you operate is not just one that requires you keep your word to fix your hypocrisy, it goes to every part of your life. God doesn't want to just selectively pluck the obviously diseased leaves, he's ready to give a wholesale pruning. Jesus said it was like being reborn.
Once you're ready for that he'll work on upkeep, too, and present you with new challenges to make you grow. One of the big areas he's given us is with telling others about him, and going out into other cultures to do this. He tells stories of hurt people who are helped and says go and do likewise. He says, "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent?"
He tells his followers to "go and make disciples of all nations", but it's easier, as Eric put it, to pay someone else to do it. When you say, "The cost of going there and doing the work myself would be better spent if I just sent them the money," you are saying that you would rather pay someone else to do what God is asking you to do. God would rather have your time and work than your money.
The benefit of doing the work is experience, and the journey, and the change you will make in someone's life. The chance you would have to do that is what God is after, not the chance to click a donate now button. You can alleviate some guilt, I guess, by donating to the cause or paying someone else to "go and do likewise," but you're really cheating yourself. He wants you to help the widows and orphans, and to care for the sick and help those who are unloved. You're his proxy while you're here.
It wasn't easy for him while he was here, and if you are feeling like you've done your job by giving to the shelter, you're only half right.
You are missing the hardest, yet most fulfilling part.