I confess. I’m partial to pickups. There is something that just feels good about driving in a “sitting-up” position and kinda looking out over the road. Those who know me well know that I really don’t “sit-up” in a car seat but instead take an almost recliner position. However, I like driving with a “king-of-the-road” perspective.
When I catch a ride with a colleague in a regular car or in one of those sporty vehicles, my perspective changes. Instead of noticing the load a flat-bed truck is carrying, I notice how big the tractor truck tires are and the hub on the axle is level with my door. Instead of seeing what manner of person is driving the truck, I’m looking at the size of the fuel tank hanging next to the window in the car.
It is all about perspective.
To the city consumer, the price of food seems horrifically high. Yet, the farmer/rancher can’t seem to get enough to cover his hard costs for equipment and fuel, much less his labor and investment of time cultivating crops or caring for livestock. The drought of 2012 means many things, but for those in agribusiness this is a very tough year. While the city dweller is disappointed that his shade tree in the backyard is stressing and losing its leaves, there are many in the agriculture business who are losing their farms and their livestock.
It’s all about perspective.
In August, many budget/finance committees are meeting to set the church’s spending plan for the next year. I’ve sat in those tedious and trying committee meetings when we couldn’t seem to balance the projected expenses with the projected income. Then someone suggested, “Well, if we would shave a little off this percentage of missions. We are so small, they wouldn’t miss it and it sure would help us balance the proposed budget.”
Such an idea seemed to come up every budget year until we commissioned Southern Baptist missionaries from our church on to the field. Then we had a team of people trained and deployed for Disaster Relief by our state missionaries. Then we had students who came to faith in Christ because of the ministry to students at the local university. All of a sudden, there was a face with every percentage point going to missions. The important cooperative missions ministries we couldn’t see with our eyes on the budget worksheet were now front and center in our minds.
Our job was more than balancing projected income and expenses but faithfully holding the rope for those who were serving in our behalf. We might whack the new parking lot or hope the A/C held another year but we were not going to cut missions. On numerous budget seasons, we were looking for new dollars to invest in cooperative ministries because we caught the vision of what we could do with others to advance the work of God in our state, nation and world.
Our perspective changed from the ministries we could see and control to our church collectively giving by faith to a cooperative ministry funded by thousands of churches just like ours. We had the opportunity to be part of something much larger than ourselves.
Isn’t that part of God’s strategy for our personal lives as well as our churches? Instead of becoming stagnant in our walk of faith, our Lord allows things to cross our paths to change our perspective. Pity the poor soul who has his/her walk of faith in a neat, tidy (and tiny) box. The Lord is perpetually challenging us to leave the comfort of the shallow water to engage in deeper things.
His passion is to change our perspective from what we can see and control to be engaged in greater faith. Faith is not to be confused with fantasy. Hebrews 11 tells us that “faith is the SUBSTANCE …” Although we cannot see the result of faith with our physical eyes, faith believes the reality expressed in the heart of God for every person, marriage, family, pastor, church … every jurisdiction. If faith is not based on that reality of God’s redemptive purpose in the heart of every citizen of this small blue planet, then it is but wishful thinking.
One of the invaluable components of Cooperative Program giving is that we must trust, as individuals and as a church, that God will use our portion combined with many others to accomplish God’s mighty purposes of communicating the gospel to every person, every generation in our state, this nation and the world.
We could do His work independently or we can trust God to work through one another to serve our Master’s purposes. It is a matter of mission perspective. Do we trust what only we or our local church can manage for missions or do we take the step of deeper faith and trust the Lord to work through cooperative missions ministries?
Granted, our Lord is trustworthy in all of His ways and trust is something we must learn about our faith walk with one another. Do we have the faith to trust God to do His mighty work through cooperative ministries? The focus of our faith needs to be on Him and not on one another. But He has chosen to work though our cooperative efforts. So, is our faith walk such that we generously invest in His work through one another to do something grand, something powerfully strategic and purposefully multigenerational through cooperative ministry?
When we prioritize our bucks and our budgets, what perspective will we choose? A perspective of mission giving to what we can see, touch and manage by our independent efforts? Or a perspective of faith that prioritizes cooperative ministries of the Southern Baptist Convention/Missouri Baptist Convention family?
It’s all about mission perspective and faith.