The ugly truth is that there is an institutional beast out there demanding to be fed with our time, resources, and loyalty. This institutional beast co-exist alongside the Christ-centered spiritual community called into being long, long years ago at Pentecost. Seeing the demanding beast and the model of the sacrificial servant brings to mind an important Word from Jesus to the church: "No one can serve two masters." (Matthew 6:24) The wisdom of our day takes us away from the black and white of this Word of Jesus to a compromising word which tells us that the key is balance; it is learning to live with the necessary tension. Around these parts we have a word that fits this spirit of necessary compromise. "Hogwash!"
When we give to God and the instrument of giving is today's church, we can figure that the institutional beast is going to devour the first eight dimes out of every dollar. Those who think otherwise need only look at that ecclesiastical mandate for operation, the church budget, and see how much of the money spent brings absolutely no benefit to the church on the corner and the people who gather there. We take too much pride in big budgets, are too obsessed with more buildings, and do too little thinking about how the church can serve those who have nothing to give it. Maybe there is more to confess and repent during this Lenten season than we thought back at the beginning.