Most people have a favorite and regular place to sit in the Church. Standing up in the sanctuary week after week, I learn to look for certain people in certain places. If on a given weekday or Sunday you are not in your place, there is not much use in looking any further because that usually means that you are not there.
I am not sure what this signifies, except that we are creatures of habit. We like familiar places and things and faces for the simple reason that they are familiar. Nevertheless, it was that particular quirk of human nature that started me thinking about where Jesus might sit in Church. If Jesus came bodily and visibly to our Church, where do you think He would sit?
Admittedly, it’s a hypothetical question, impossible to finally answer, but the gospel may give us some insight. In the gospel of Mark, we find Jesus warns against people who love to sit in the best seats in the synagogue and the places of honor at banquets. Later on in that gospel, Jesus is in the Temple, and there we are told He found a seat close to the collection boxes so that He could watch the people as they dropped in their money.
Now what does that mean to you and me? Why do you suppose Jesus deliberately took a seat in the Temple where He would have a good view of the collection boxes?
I think that Jesus sits where He can observe and measure our giving. His motivation was a deep personal interest in the people involved. There are few things that reveal as much about a person as the person’s attitude toward money. People invest their money in those things to which they are most committed and in which they most believe.
This raises a profound question with which each of us should examine his or her own life. What does this handling of money say about you and me? What is our attitude about material possessions? When Jesus observes our giving what does He see?
Someone has pointed out that the story of the Good Samaritan reveals the three basic attitudes people have toward money. You remember the story. There was a man travelling from Jerusalem down to Jericho. Along the way he was beaten and robbed and left lying beside the road. After a while, a priest and a Levite came by, saw him lying there, but refused to get involved. Finally, a Samaritan came along, picked the man up, carried him to an inn, and paid for his lodging. Now note the three attitudes toward money.
First is that of the thieves. Their attitude was, “What is yours is mine, I will take it.” This attitude is still very much a part of our modern world. From muggers in the street to white-collar crime, many people are still trying to enrich themselves at the expense of others. Second is the attitude of the priest and Levite. They said, “What is mine, I will keep it.” Probably this is the place where most of us live. We are not dishonest enough to start robbing others, but we are selfish enough to keep everything possible for ourselves. Look out for number one.
But there is a third attitude toward money. It is revealed in the conduct of the Good Samaritan. His attitude was, “What is mine is yours; I will share it.”
Almost instinctively we know that unselfishness is the high road of life. There is a direct connection between living and giving. None of us has truly learned to live until we have learned to truly give.
Until we learn that lesson, life is a one-way street, a dead end. The biggest thing in life is self, and that’s a tragic way for any person to live. That is the primary emphasis of Christian stewardship, not that God needs our money, but that we need to give. So it isn’t surprising that Jesus sits by the collection boxes.
What will He see when we enter God’s house? What is our attitude about giving?