Freedom To Spend Money As We Wish - And Response (5)

Friday, August 9, 2013

David Cooks' column today about the large crosses probably expresses how many people feel. The church that erected them did so with not a selfish motive, but in an effort to picture Christ's love for each one of us.  

Thankfully we still have the freedom to spend our money as we wish.  All around us are examples of large amounts of money being spent (or wasted) in sports, entertainment, government etc.

  But as Mr Cook said, look at your own checkbook.  "He who is without sin, throw the first stone."

Felicia Kendall

* * *

Being stationed with the military these days in the western half of the SEC, I sometimes find that I am a little behind in the street talk here in my home town.  However, I eventually catch up like now on the weekends when I return.  How interesting and somewhat peculiar to hear from associates and friends that we seem to have another church controversy brewing, and over all things a church construction project. 

The Crossing of Chattanooga, a Church of God outlet near the mall and close to the Silverdale prison, has erected three rather large and rather controversial crosses facing interstate 75.  If what I hear is correct, the controversy is not centered around the symbols themselves, nor is it centered around their location (opposite the new Islamic Center).  Rather, the problem seems to be more with how much these crosses cost.  Even this website penned the price tag in the announcement this past week.  My response: who really cares?

Since when did we as Americans become ordained with the responsibility to question how other Americans spend their own money?  If a group of people want to pool their resources and build a huge memorial to whatever they want to memorialize, so what?  What if they had spent that same money on an electronic sign?  Would it still be a controversy?  Is it not their money to spend how they want?  When did the assumption of command by others to judge that expenditure take place?  I must have missed that.  If we want to truly use our very real authority to question how certain entities spend money, let’s turn our attention to the federal government and the debacle occurring there.

Do the “critics of the crosses” not think it so much more of a travesty that our federal government is destroying our national security and our future with their reckless fiscal activities?   Is it not more offensive to many Chattanoogans that our tax dollars are actively used to destroy unborn lives and enslave people to entitlements?  There should be news stories every single day, every hour, spotlighting the hypocrisy and arrogance of government spending.  It should be part of our daily dialogue as active citizens who care about our communities.  I would like to see the same energy behind objections to government spending and waste that seems to be displayed in this silly controversy. That’s where our outrage should be focused, not on some construction project by private citizens on private land.  All symbolism aside, it’s a private activity paid for with private money. If the folks at the Crossing of Chattanooga want to be known as the church with the crosses on the interstate, who cares?  As a fellow Christian believer, I just hope that is not all they come to be known as.

Savas T. Kyriakidis

* * *

A church construction project? Hey, we're not just adding a diaper changing station to the main restroom here. I don't believe that a few days of questioning why it's somehow God's Plan to waste three quarters of a million dollars on what can only be called either ego gratification or advertising is necessarily a bad thing. 

I just hope when I tithe, it's being used more wisely. 

Chris Rice
East Ridge

* * *

I have been reading about the gripes of those who oppose the three crosses that have been erected. After reading these articles, I have to ask those people a question. Does anyone read the Bible anymore? 

Look in the book of Exodus. Does anyone remember a man called Moses? Try building a Tabernacle today like God told Moses to build and see what it would cost. It lists so much gold, silver,brass, fine linens, not to mention all the craftsmanship in this. It is totally awesome. Now this was God's commandment to Moses. He didn't ask, he commanded him to build it. 

This church puts a lot of money out on helping people and now people are saying it is sinful to show God is still around and so are Christians. So don't let your jealous nature cause you to make
statements you know nothing about. 

My wife and I go to the Great Smoky Mountains every year. We head to Lenoir City up Highway75, and we always keep our eyes out for the three crosses on the left that are so high up. It gives a Christian a chill when you know what that represents. 

Please read your Bible before you speak and find out what this is all about. I bet people would die of a heart failure if God commanded someone to build a Tabernacle today the size and value of the one he commanded Moses to build. It would surely be a whole lot more than the three crosses off Highway 153.

Bud Mansel

* * * 

I am not a member of The Crossing Church, but I know people who are, including the gentleman who leads their outreach to the homeless and impoverished.  The Crossing is a church that takes its commitment to feeding and caring for the poor very seriously, week after week, year after year.   

For those who wish to criticize, please know that these folks truly "look after widows and orphans in their distress"--something which James describes as "religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless."    

The Crossing "walks the walk," not just "talks the talk."

Steve Duggins 

 * * * 

“Since I'm not a congregant I can't say what a foolish way to spend money when so many people are out of work and going to bed hungry. If I were a congregant I'd certainly check the priorities of my Church.” Debbie, WTVC website 

“Well, according to my feed, it’s a $700,000 expense, and that money could be put to good use elsewhere.” John, Facebook 

“I just hope when I tithe, it's being used more wisely.” Chris, the Chattanoogan website 

“I’m still disappointed and frustrated over the $700,000; plenty of others are, too. Spiritually speaking, it just smells bad.” David Cook, Times Free Press 

What’s all the uproar about? It seems a local Chattanooga church, The Crossing, finally raised the funds to accomplish a long-term desire to erect three quite large crosses – one is 125’ high, the two flanking are 100’. While there has been plenty of positive feedback and support, it’s the negative ranting that is most disturbing. After all, a church, comprised of congregants, decided as a group to use their resources to erect on their own property a sign of their faith. Crosses and churches tend to go together after all. 

"And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all [peoples] to Myself." John 12:32  

Most of the umbrage was centered on what the church could have done with the reported $700,000 the project cost. Why, they could have fed the poor. Built houses for lepers. Given the money to someone who needed it. Any number of things they could have done and then the press would have been favorable. But I detect something disingenuous about those sentiments. After all, how much of their income has gone to the poor, leprous, needy in the past year? It sure is easy to give away someone else’s money. And this church, like most, is well known for its charitable activities. After all, if you are homeless or hungry or destitute where do you turn? Most likely to a church-supported mission. Indeed, the average Christian household gives more than four times the dollar amount of an unbelieving family. 

And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured [it] on His head. But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, "Why was this fragrant oil wasted? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor." And they criticized her sharply. But Jesus said, "Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me.” Mark 14:3-6 

So why does the Church exist? What is its mission? It may come as a surprise to those who have not studied their New Testaments or those who do not regularly attend Christian services but the Church does not exist to feed the poor. Or shelter the homeless. Or build colonies for lepers. All of those activities are certainly noble pursuits and are to be commended. And they do happen - because of the hearts of those who do attend services and belong to a local church. No, the church exists to do one thing – lift up Jesus. And it does that through outreach and teaching and, yes, charitable deeds. And also by building outlandish and dramatic and expensive crosses. Because a church that is actively seeking God is going to do the thing that they believe most symbolizes and draws attention to their chief cause. And the chief cause is Jesus. 

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1Cor 1:18 

And why three crosses? As one commentator, apparently being magnanimous and thrifty at the same time, put it “Why not build just one?” In the Bible narrative Jesus was flanked by two other crosses – men who were also being punished by the authorities. One mocked Jesus but the other asked for His attention. One represents those who revile faith and openly condemn the Christian beliefs. The other represents the one who sees the truth in the crucifixion account and embraces his God. You can run from the cross. Or you can kneel before it. And the erection of three crosses forces anyone who sees them to make a choice. What am I going to say/do/think about those three little crosses? 

Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom."
And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."
Luke 23:42-43 

It is amazing that we take offense to three crosses and find them “huge” and “enormous” and “expensive” at $700,000. The Washington Monument is 555’ feet tall and is currently being repaired for $15 million. The Gateway Arch in St. Louis is 630 feet tall – and cost the equivalent of $94 million in today’s money. It costs $179,750 per hour to fly the Air Force One – in other words, it costs about ½ million dollars just for that one plane to visit this fair city. In every case – the monument, the arch, the flight costs – no one takes offense. But a church decides to spend their money on their plan on their property and it’s suddenly everyone’s concern.  

There has been an ongoing attempt to marginalize the Church. Lawsuits are nearly daily news – prayer at football games, the Ten Commandments at the courthouse, a cross on government property, a humanist wedding at West Point chapel. And many of those cases may even have merit in regards to the Constitution. But here we see a reaction to what a church does, not on government land, not using public funds, not taking up government time, but what a private organization does, well, privately. It seems that the alleged “separation of church and state” has taken on a whole new and troubling dimension – i.e., the church needs to leave the state. The state does not wish to be offended by the silly (or challenging) (or troubling) beliefs of those folks who will not enter the modern age. “Church, tear down those crosses, and let society spend the money” seems to be the cry. Because society has done so well spending its own money… 

So they brought [it]. And He said to them, "Whose image and inscription [is] this?" They said to Him, "Caesar's." And Jesus answered and said to them, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." And they marveled at Him. Mar 12:16-17 

The Crossing Church is to be commended, not reviled, for its courageous stance. In the light of modern “relevance” and the “social church” and “good works” campaigns they have remembered their mission. They have decided to lift up the Cross of Jesus Christ to the 75,000 motorists who pass by that site every day. Over the course of just one year The Crossing will have only spent two cents per car to spread a simple message of three crosses. And, like any marketing campaign, the target audience now has to decide what to do about that message. I call that a bargain for the Church collectively. 

So what are you going to do about the three little crosses? Make fun? Complain? Be indignant? Because you are going to do something, say something, think something. And you should. Because over two thousand years after the original crosses were erected they still are causing a conversation. They still try men’s souls. They still convict and demand a response. Which was exactly the plan. 

And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, - having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Col 2:13-14 

Kenny Fleshman

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