Thursday, April 16, 2015

What Happened To Philanthropy?

I've had the privilege to visit the historic district of Georgia's oldest city in the last couple of weeks. We learned lots of history about all the events, happenings, and people that lived in Savannah over the last 282 years, beginning with those 114 men who got off at what would be the port of Savannah with George Oglethorpe in 1733. Things really got rolling about the time the Revolutionary War was beginning, and the upper class was really separating themselves out and exerting their prominence among the peoples of Savannah. Architecture, pirates, affairs, plantations, monuments, and memorials, we learned and saw it all. As I reflect on it, one thing stood out that we don't see as much of today: philanthropy.

There were families, widows, plantation owners, political leaders, prominent men etc. that donated houses, lands, moneys, or whole estates to the city of Savannah, or to hospitals, or to preservation of art, or to hospitals, and many other community related, perpetual improvement or historically significant causes. Now, maybe it's because I was not raised among the more financially blessed, or maybe it is because I have never worked in a really large metropolis with larger amounts of those individuals or larger non-profits that would not exist were it not for philanthropy, but I just wonder if it is fading from priority?

The Christian faith has always been (or should have always been) about taking care of the widow and the orphan, speaking up for the oppressed, picking up the downtrodden, strengthening the weak and sick, visiting the incarcerated, feeding the hungry, finding the lost. Can't speak for everyone, and maybe I should not speak at all, but it seems as though American Christianity is becoming so self-centered that we are forgetting the fullness of our call. Share the gospel, yes. But Jesus said to make disciples--teaching them to observe all the things that I have taught (Matt 28:20). Jesus says a lot about caring for widows, children, poor, oppressed, and imprisoned, and the OT says too much to write.

Matt 25:35 "...for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in..."

Luke 14:13  But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind.

So what do we do with our wealth that we have laid up for a lifetime? Build bigger barns to store it all? Lay it up in treasure that wastes away where the moths an rust corrupts? Do we as churches sit on millions of dollars, while we cut salaries, and children starve and die of preventable disease? A good man leaves an inheritance for his children, but must we leave it all to family? Couldn't we give some away while we live and when we die? What if we left gifts to be put into foundations for the ministries that serve entire communities? Why not leave $100,000 to the Pregnancy Care Center of Tiftarea (my personal favorite)? Or to the Lifehouse Ministries? Or to Brother Charlies's? Or to the Salvation Army? Or to Ruth's Cottage/Patti-cake House? There is a new homeless shelter coming for families with children, why not that?

Just a thought for you to ponder as we think about stewarding the money and resources that God has entrusted to us. We will give an account. How much kingdom value have you given this year? Change your last will to reflect your heart for those in the community that you care about.

No comments:

Post a Comment