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Pay-What-You-Can Christianity

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  1. When a non-profit board asks you to become one of their members, they're asking you to make a contribution of some sort to the non-profit.
    • The point of belonging is not honor or self-aggrandizement, etc.
    • The board doesn't expect you to single-handedly subsidize the organization--only make a contribution according to your ability.
  2. The SAME Cafe (So All May Eat) in Denver, CO operates on the pay-what-you-can principle. If you don't have the money to pay for your meal, you can barter or work it off your bill.
    • So a homeless person may only have a $1 to pay for his meal compared to a wealthier person who can pay the full price.
    • Some people, who appreciate what SAME Cafe is trying to do have done things like donating a car, purchasing new flatware, given the Cafe free carpet cleaning, etc.
  3. The idea of pay-as-you-can or "reasonable" service transforms the way a person looks at his/her involvement in life. (See Romans 12:1)
    • What is "reasonable"?
    • Am I responsible for more than just myself? Would it matter if I felt no obligation or responsibility to the institutions I am a part of?
    • What would happen if we were all autonomous acting?

I. Living Sacrifices:

  1. In the text for today, we hear Paul calling the Roman church to give sacrificially to God. See 12:1.
  2. The Bible never invites us to feast on God's mercies for free. (Not to be confused with attempting to purchase the salvation of God on the basis of merit.)
  3. On the other hand, it is inconceivable that people who have received the free gift of God, salvation through Jesus, would take the gift with no sense of gratitude or obligation. For example:
    • Romans 6:1. Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound?
    • Romans 2:4. you despise the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience?
    • Galatians 5:13. were called to freedom...only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence.
    • 1 Peter 2:16. As servants of God, live as free people, yet do not use your freedom as a pretext for evil.
    • Jude 4. ...intruders have stolen in among you, people...who pervert the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

II. A Catalog of Worthy Deeds:

  1. Love people. Jesus said that he was giving us a new commandment, "Love one another." Paul shows the implications of that in Romans 12.
    • Be genuine in love.
    • Show honor to others.
    • Show mutual affection.
    • Contribute to the needs of saints.
    • Extend hospitality to strangers.
    • Live in harmony. Live peaceably.
    • Associate with the lowly.
    • Feed your enemies. THis is love at its best.
  2. Be energetic in service.
    • Don't lag in zeal.
    • Be ardent in spirit.
    • Serve the Lord.
  3. Endure suffering.
    • Be patient in suffering.
    • Bless those who persecute you.
    • Don't repay evil for evil.
  4. Know the difference between good and evil.
    • Hate what is evil and hold fast to what is good.
    • Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.


  1. Betty Meadows, general presbyter of Mid-Kentucky Presbytery (a position similar, in some ways, to bishop in other traditions), describes a summer sabbatical that transformed her life. She left her churchy world behind and went “under cover” for three months, working as a Waffle House hostess. To her surprise, as she put it, “the risen Christ showed up every day.”

    A van broke down in the parking lot, on the Fourth of July, carrying a family from Alabama. No garage or mechanic could be found. A waitress heard of their plight and called her boyfriend. He arrived 15 minutes later and fixed their van, for the price of a cup of coffee.

    “The risen Christ in the mechanic and the waitress,” writes Betty.

    A lawyer set up shop in the Waffle House, offering legal help to the needy of the community, for what they could pay — or for no payment at all, if they couldn’t afford it.

    “Day after day,” writes Betty, “this lawyer sat at a table, smoking his cigar, meeting client after client, turning down no one. The risen Christ in the lawyer.”

    A woman hobbled into the restaurant, a cast on one leg, but displaying signs of other medical difficulties. The police had just arrested her boyfriend for drunken driving and had impounded his truck. She was turned out on the street, with nowhere to go. The restaurant was so busy, none of the staff could give her a ride to the bus station, but she called her landlord, who lived an hour and a half away. He dropped everything, and drove right over to pick her up.

    “When the landlord arrived,” writes Betty, “I said to him, ‘How kind of you to drive so far for one of your tenants, for this woman.’

    “The man looked puzzled. And then he said, ‘Why wouldn’t I?’

    “The risen Christ in the landlord.”

    Pretty much says it all.
  2. The true disciple would never imagine a discipleship in which s/he gives nothing in return for the grace of our Lord.
    • Such a response, or non-response, to grace would be an oxymoron. An inconceivable concept.
    • Discipleship by its very nature seeks ways to spend itself on the good of others.
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