Getting Off Spiritual Welfare

Getting Off Spiritual Welfare

The welfare system in our country was conceived in the 1930’s during the economic crisis known as the Great Depression.  The welfare system was the US government’s response to the overwhelming number of families and individuals who had little or no income and were in need of assistance to provide the basic necessities of life.  While some who were unemployed or underemployed used the welfare system to help them through difficult times or rough patches, others abused the welfare system by receiving assistance without seeking employment.  Those who abused the welfare system were determined to get as much as they could by doing as little as they could and this resulted in a situation where those who worked hard at their jobs were funding, through their tax dollars, a government program that supported many people who would not work.

Unfortunately the same is true in many of our churches.  There are many people who are living on “spiritual welfare” week-in and week-out in churches all across our continent.  There are men and women who are faithfully exercising the gifts they’ve received from God by serving diligently in 2, 3, or 4 roles in a given church or ministry while at the same time other men and women in the same congregation are living on “spiritual welfare” by letting those around them carry their weight in the church.  In fact, some of you who are reading this right now have been living on “spiritual welfare” for years and though you may have very strong opinions about those who abuse the government’s welfare program you do not seem to be opposed to living your entire Christian experience on “spiritual welfare”.  Some of you have been professing Christians for five, fifteen, or twenty-five years and the bulk of that time you have spent sitting while others are up serving and trying to carry the weight that you should be carrying.
How do you know if you are living on “spiritual welfare”?  One way to know if you are living on “spiritual welfare” is if the only reason you attend church on the weekends is to “get your batteries recharged”.  While corporate worship [song, sacrament, and preaching] should refocus our hearts and minds on the beauty, goodness, and grace of God there are many in the church who only come to consume without any consideration of how they might contribute to the ministries of the church with their hands, feet, mouths, and minds.  If the only reason you attend church is to get your spiritual high for the week ahead then it is likely that you are living on “spiritual welfare”.  Another way to know if you are living on “spiritual welfare” is if your decision to attend or join a particular church is based solely on the fact that they serve your or your family’s needs.  There is nothing wrong with having your needs met in a particular church, because after all we are called to “serve one another”.  In fact, your church should be meeting needs for teaching, worship, Christian friendship, etc. in you and your family’s life.  However, if the only reason you are at that church is because they meet your or your family’s needs then you are likely living on “spiritual welfare”.  There are many in the American church who attend week-in and week-out who would identify themselves as Christians, have been baptized, and are likely members of a church who are at that particular church only because people there serve them in some way and they never give consideration to how they might serve the people that are serving them.

How do we get off “spiritual welfare?  In order to get off “spiritual welfare” you have to recognize that God has gifted you, how God has gifted you, and why God has gifted you.  We’ll consider each of these in the coming days so stay tuned…

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