Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, Mother's Day, Father's Day...have you ever gotten a really bad gift? I mean really bad? So bad that when you opened it, you thought, "What were they thinking?" And you wanted to look at the giver and ask that very question, but instead accepted the gift graciously, because you know that it's the thought that counts.
Everyone has gotten a really bad gift at least once. As I'm typing this right now, the scene from Christmas vacation where Aunt Bethany wraps up her cat and her jello mold is running through the background of my mind. Everyone knows an Aunt Bethany, but that's ok. It really is the thought that counts. Or at least I thought it was until I read the texts for this morning.
1 Samuel 6 threw me a curve this morning, I'll admit it. It's nothing earth shattering. No huge epiphany. It's not even anything that makes me question my faith or throw some doubt onto some belief that I may have. It was just...well, it was just odd.
Here's a little background. Yesterday's reading had the Philistines capturing the ark of the covenant. Today, they're wanting to give it back, but they're not sure how to go about it. So the priests and diviners among them said not to send the ark back empty, but that they needed to send a guilt offering. When the Philistines asked them what kind of guilt offering to send, here is what they said:
"Five gold tumors and five gold rats, according to the number of the Philistine rulers, because the same plague has struck both you and your rulers. Make models of the tumors and of the rats that are destroying the country, and pay honor to Israel's God." That's right, gold tumors and gold rats.
"Dad, this one is meowing..."
"...Ah, she wrapped up her cat."
"Great, can't wait to see what I got."
The question I have is, why did they think God would want a gold tumor? Why do we do some of the things we do? You see, I think we want to give really cool gifts, but sometimes I have to wonder if they don't appear as gold tumors. I mean, who doesn't want to be the one who gave their neice or nephew the really cool toy at Christmas? Why would we want to do any less for God? And it's not even about tithing.
What are the gifts we offer our Creator? One hour on Sunday morning? Well, that is unless UK is playing...that's right, I went there. Do we offer any other gifts during the week? Or, do we wait until next Sunday when we offer another hour? I've been thinking alot about this lately.
God doesn't need our gold tumors or rats, God wants our devotion. That's part of our discipleship, I think. I'm still figuring all of that out. We are called to make disciples as the church, and through our gifts of devotion, study, witness, care of others, and worship we are being discipled so that we can make disciples. And I think that is the gift God really desires.
So, First Church especially, as we begin to look at how effective we are at making disciples, I would ask you to look at the gifts you are giving the Creator. Are you spending time every day in devotion? If not, why? Are you spending time in study? If not, why? Are you spending time in witness? Care of others? Are you finding time during the week to worship? It doesn't have to be in a corporate setting. It can be as simple as one on one with God.
If we do these things...I think...God will not be saying as the gifts are opened, "Great, can't wait to see what I got."