Kingdom Assignment

ABC’s Person of the Week last week was Pastor Gary Marzolf of First United Methodist Church of Newton, Iowa. He gave out $100 each to 50 volunteers:

Marzolf handed each person a $100 bill and explained the assignment. “First, they needed to understand that this wasn’t their money but that it was God’s money,” he said. “Second, they needed to understand that this money was to be used to further God’s kingdom. The third qualification was that they had to come back to tell us what they did with the money.”

I think it’s an interesting proposition. The Church has, in large part, forgotten about the extra gifts that used to be brought forward for the help of the poor and the needy (the original Offertory). My only quibble is let’s not call it “furthering God’s kingdom.” Good works never do that. Let’s not call it “outreach” or “mission” or “evangelism.” Let’s simply call it “helping our neighbor,” and leave it at that. Helping those in need doesn’t have to be baptized, does it?

On the whole, I think it’s a pretty good idea. [Perhaps the GFBA, Lucilius, who sent it to me has a different take.]


5 thoughts on “Kingdom Assignment

  1. I don’t have a different take. The thing that struck me was just how creative and adventurous parishioners were with $100. Some of the parishioners really did some creative, bold and positive things with the money. The question that occurred to me was this (and I’m sure the pastor in question is driving toward this): Now why aren’t people so proactive in using the money they have (also a gift from God and also not theirs; also intended by God to be used for one’s neighbor – points emphatically expressed by the pastor about the $100) as a result of labor?

    No matter your take on it, I think it was bold and pointed as a pastoral action. Thanks for posting on it, Timotheos… it didn’t really “match the furniture” on my blog. 😉

  2. Probably because our credit card debt is so high, and all our extra cash goes to paying the interest.

    Or, maybe we’re just stingy.

  3. Can my good works bring salvation to anyone? “Salvation,” in my mind, equals “furthering God’s kingdom.”

    Matthew 5:14-16 depends on how you define “glorify.” Does it mean “become a Christian”? If so, it clearly cannot be simply because I do a good work. (Unless Jesus is contradicting everything it says elsewhere in the Bible about how one becomes a member of His Body.) 1 Peter 2:12 has similar words, but Peter is clearly *not* talking about becoming a Christian, since the “Gentiles” are slandering the Christians as evildoers. It is on the “day of visitation” that they glorify God, i.e., at that time they realize that the Christians were really doing right.

    Whether Jesus and Peter are talking about the same thing or not, it is not true that good works, in and of themselves, further the kingdom. The song is not entirely correct: they will not know we are Christians by our love, unless they ask and we tell them. It must be remembered that even unbelievers do “good” things. They help people, serve in their vocations, etc. Does it make sense that simply because a Christian does a good work, people will glorify God because of it?

    If two people, one a Christian and one not, do the exact same good work, will the one who witnesses both glorify God because of both? How will the witness know which is a Christian and which not–unless the Christian has the opportunity and takes it to speak about the love of Christ.


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