GoFundMe was launched on May 10, 2010 and is now the world’s #1 crowdfunding platform for personal causes and life-events. “Crowdfunding” is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people, typically via the internet.
The Apostle Paul did a little crowdfunding himself but had to use face to face appeals and letters. We read about it in 2 Corinthians 8 and 9. What cause caused Paul to raise money? The Jerusalem church and it’s poor.
The Christians in Jerusalem were struggling financially. The Jews in Jerusalem may have isolated Christian Jews from the economic system. It’s one form of persecution they may have endured. Also, we know from Acts 11:28 and from the Jewish historian Josephus that there was a famine in Judea between A.D. 44 and 48. That may have been part of the reason for the poverty among the Christians in Jerusalem.
Paul saw a need and rallied the troops to help out. And many did. “For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. They were pleased to do it …”
You might think that the ones to give are the ones who have the most. Think again. Paul will say in 2 Corinthians 8 that it was out of their “extreme poverty” that they had “overflowed in a wealth of generosity.” They were experiencing poverty too but still gave to those in need. People who have little in terms of resources tend to give more of their resources. The Macedonians did.
But the Corinthian church had not. So Paul gives them and us a path to becoming generous with our resources. Paul points to the basis of what made his GoFundMe campaign for Jerusalem take off in 2 Corinthians 8:9: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”
Money issues in churches are seldom financial issues. Mostly they are spiritual issues. Jesus’ grace then is the reason for our generosity now. Generosity happens when we keep our eyes on Jesus.
In 2 Corinthians 16 Paul encourages the church to follow these giving principles:
- Give on the first day of every week.We give the first of what God has given us and we give it at the first of the week when Jesus’ people are gathered for worship.
- Each one gives. No one is exempted from giving. God has made us stewards of what he has given whether it is little or a lot. Generosity begins now, not later.
- Each one gives prayerfully as they have prospered. Each believer is to give from his heart “for God loves a cheerful giver.”
- Give extra to extra causes. The early churches had weekly needs among their own that they gave towards. But when other needs arose the church was being called to give extra.
- Put God first in your giving. Let Christ be your example. Have a cheerful Spirit in your generosity. You’ll find yourself loosening your grip on “stuff” and taking a greater hold on Christ.
— Excerpt from the BELIEVE Study Series by Randy Freeze