It seems at every turn and with every new vision and hope we have to talk about money. I know the world is talking about money – or at least that’s how it seems. But truthfully I believe the church should talk about vision and when there is discernment around vision and agreement about vision then that’s what I understand as God’s guidance. For me it’s a no brainer after that – if that’s the way we believe God is leading us then that’s where we go. Our job is to work out how to do it, how to get there. I don’t understand it to be our job to think – ‘We can’t do that, or we can’t do anything, because we haven’t any money.’ Now maybe I am naive, I’m prepared to be called that and I can live with that. But as I was thinking all of this through I was reminded of those prayers I used to hear so often in prayer meetings about God supplying our every need. There was always something of an implication too that if we were on the right path then God would provide what we needed. How does that work? Since when did the people of God not have to make some effort, step out in faith, give something of their flesh and bone to live in the will of God? So going back into my past experience didn’t really help me after all. It was too easy and too easy to get off the hook of mission-dedicated people willing to make sacrifices if sacrifices were called for.
So I looked again at where this all comes from – a verse in Philippians written by Paul who was expressing gratitude to the people who had gathered together money to send to him while he was in prison and also for the money they had sent previously while he had been working in Thessalonica. He hadn’t received anything from anyone else and so their gift had been even more joyfully received. Paul is grateful to them and prays for them that God would supply all their needs – I imagine not needs of money but other unmet needs that they would have had. It is the prayer for them that has so hooked some Christians and become somewhat distorted in different times and situations either to see provision as a mark of God’s approval or alternatively seeing the resource not easily available to mean that the work has to wait or be redrafted in light of this complicating silence of provision from God.
It becomes nothing short of a privilege then to know that God is attentive to our unmet needs, individual and corporate whether as the body of Christ or the people of a local community. Furthermore it becomes a privilege to work for the vision, to engage in the mission that is discerned as being the way God is leading. So the money can’t be expected to fall like manna from heaven, at least not all of the time. But nevertheless the needs are met. And like the Philippians the key is to use what we have faithfully and well a they used their money for Paul’s good in Thessalonica and when he was in prison. We can’t think that we can squirrel away what we have whether that be people or buildings or money and then expect God to do everything. What we can expect is that when we use what we have generously and faithfully then there will be people praying for God’s blessing for us in supplying our needs and we can expect that blessing to be real. For me it’s a whole new freedom.