Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2017
The Impact of Tithing
Mark 16:15; 1 Peter 3:8, 9; 1 Corinthians 9:14; Romans 3:19-24
February 24, 2018
Call it innovative or call it creepy, but Boston Dynamics recently put the power of collaborative problem solving on display in a new video. The 45-second video shows two SpotMini robots working together to achieve a common goal: open an office door and go through it. SpotMini is a 25-pound four-legged robot (looking eerily similar to your family’s pet dog), capable of picking up and handling objects using an arm attachment and perception sensors. In the video, the first SpotMini approaches the door and appears to scan it before calling in a buddy. As the second robot comes into view, the first one retreats and watches his its “armed” counterpart move into position, scan the door, and then proceed to open it with the mechanical arm. It even holds the door open with a front leg while it repositions the arm.
This office scene is both terrifying and fascinating. Robotic ability is now combined with artificial intelligence. It’s a little like the scene in Jurassic Park where the velociraptors figure out how to open doors. Doors, after all, are supposed to be safety barriers against such nightmare-provoking creatures. Cooperative robot teams could, however, prove handy in a number of real life scenarios, such as search and rescue missions after natural disasters. The ability to keep weight and size down by utilizing a scout-type robot with advanced optics and pairing it with specific-use case partners for drilling through debris, lifting rubble out of the way, or shuttling food and water to victims. This could keep rescue workers out of danger in the immediate aftermath of an earthquake. It’s the concept of artificial intelligence creations working together for a common goal that is a bit unsettling. Author Bryan Clark humorously concludes, “For now though, it’s important to understand that it’s their world, and we’re just living in it. I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords.” 
The potential of collaboration is phenomenal. Imagine the possible power of our alliance with God. This week’s lesson explores the impact of tithing—a readily available opportunity for each of us to partner with God. We all have some type of an income (provided, ultimately, by God). Each of us has the option to return God’s portion, and when God adds His blessing to our faithfulness miraculous things can happen.
Wednesday’s lesson considers a fair question: “Think what would happen if people were to send their tithe to wherever they wanted.” It’s a bit like if SpotMini #1 asked his buddy to open the door to the office break room, and SpotMini #2 proceeded to open the restroom door—sure, it can be a useful response in the right situation, but it’s not exactly a functional collaboration. The partnership that God has outlined is this: our faithful action plus His divine blueprint equals a powerful impact that can change our world for the better.