THE CHURCH OF QUID PRO QUO, PART I
By Fr. Harry Linsinbigler
"Why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and don't do the things I say?”(Luke 6.46)
“Quid pro quo” is Latin and literally means “this for that” or “something for something,” indicating that one person will do something or give something expecting something back. In other words, they give, not because it is the right thing to do, but only when they get something out of it. It is “a favor for a favor” or “you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.”
We don’t see the phrase “quid pro quo” very often, even though it happens quite often. We are most used to seeing it in instances of bribery, where a “gift” to a politician or someone in authority is given in exchange for a contract, or overlooking things, or not carrying out the law properly, etc. Yet, as already mentioned, its meaning is much broader.
Quid pro quo is wholeheartedly anti-Christian, and yet the world’s modern culture is saturated with it, that someone will only do something for someone else or give something if they get something out of it. Unfortunately, this permeates into the modern Church, and its beginnings in the Church go back a few centuries. The Biblical account of Simon Magus and the proportion of canons against simony show that the Church has been battling against it from the beginning.
Yet I don’t think that many people appreciate how wrong it really is. Let us examine the following teachings of Jesus Christ:
“If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them, expecting nothing in return. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” (Luke 6.33-35).
If we are expected to do good to our enemies expecting nothing in return, then all the more is it expected of us with regard to Christ’s Body! If we are to treat enemies this way then why do we not treat God this way and His Body this way and even brother Christians and friends this way? Such is the ordinance of Jesus Christ for His followers.
While hard for people to hear, for Christians this includes expecting “repayment” of appreciation or gratitude. Sometimes we do the right thing and people might bite at us or even do something nasty as the result. This is precisely what Christ teaches us is the ONLY thing where we actually GAIN anything. If we only do good to those who appreciate it, as Christ himself teaches, then we have NO REWARD. If we are real Christians, we will accept the principles of Christ and repent (change our mindset). If not, we will continue as we always have…as spiritual infants who don’t want to grow.
One problem with today’s church is that many people don’t even know that they are doing the exact opposite of what God expects them with regard to the Church. Many don’t realize that they come to Church with an attitude of quid pro quo, or else they are aware of it but just don’t know, or don’t want to recognize, that it is wrong. It is morally wrong.
The Church is moving out of the darker days of “pay by treby” (i.e. quid pro quo tribute to a priest only when he does something for another person, be it baptism, blessing of an object, memorial etc.). Yet there are many members who only give money not because they have pledged to do so, nor because it belongs to God (tithing), but only if they feel the church is doing something for them, or is doing what they want.
Of course, the point of giving to the Church is because God commands it,
We are not to give to the Church because the “Church does something for me” or because the “Church is doing what I want it to do, but because God commands it, for our spiritual benefit. The thing that many people miss about the teachings of Christ is that giving is something that benefits us, and without proper giving, we do not receive the benefits.
God doesn’t need our money. Our giving is for our benefit, that we be invested in our own salvation. God owns everything we have, we are but stewards, and we have to be careful about how we use it. We can will things to others when we die, but ultimately it is all going back to Him in the end. The story of the Prodigal Son was the repentance of one who spent his living on ungodly things. We must heed the call to repent and to use our living wisely, and invest in the Kingdom of God, looking to receive nothing in return. Our Lord makes one thing clear: that it is ONLY the things that we do where we look for no reward (including praise or “credit” from other people) that even count toward the Kingdom of God.
Part II of this article to come