Yesterday, we explored how a church community is meant to be a gathering, sometimes even just for fun and fellowship.
You might think church has always meant a religious gathering of Christians on Sunday morning. But in the Bible’s Greek language, church had another meaning before that. The Greek word for church is ekklesia which literally means “an assembly” or “gathering of people”. But not just for its own good. It’s called out to be and do something specific. This week’s passage says gathering together is not just for encouragement to love, but for encouragement to good works.
We are meant to be a preview of the world as God wants it to be. We are meant to make people say wow. Unlike the church I described yesterday, people are supposed to look at our community (even at its business meetings) and say, “Wow! That’s how we are supposed to relate with each other, and our world, and God. I can see it now!” They are meant to see the Kingdom of God in us.
Aristides was a philosopher in Athens in the second century and he observed the first Christians, the early church, and this is what he recorded about them in 125 AD.
“They walk in humility and kindness, and falsehood is not found among them. They love one another. He that has distributes liberally to him that does not have. If they see a stranger they bring him under their own roof and rejoice over him as if he were their own brother.”
Aristides looked at that first church, that earliest gathering of Christians and he said WOW.
Have you ever looked at a team, group or organization and said, wow? Why? Think of the Snowbirds, or a great dance troupe.
Our church today meant to make people say wow…because of our generosity and love of one another, that spills over to the lives of others near us.
We’re intending to becoming this kind of church through our discussion groups first, and also when our discussion groups come together as one community for celebration.
Challenge: If you’re not already meeting with a group, please do. What act of generosity and service can you do with your discussion group, or family, that will make others in your life say wow? Think of one thing internal to your group that you do for each other, and one thing your group does for others.
Reminder: Last week we saw the importance of reading the Bible together in sync, so our new daily bible readings start today in our mobile app and web site.
Read the Bible in Sync Today
Share a Link to this Message
The link has been copied to your clipboard; paste it anywhere you would like to share it.
As we become a church, a community of people learning to follow Jesus in sync even while apart, we are working to be commited to five key things. This week, we’re looking to be commited to generosity in our resources. We want to be known for this as a community.
One of the first church leaders, Paul, wrote this to Timothy, who he was mentoring to lead churches after him:
As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. - 1 Timothy 6:17-19 ESV
We asked yesterday if you knew anyone who worshipped money, and how you could tell. That’s exactly what Paul is warning about here. He doesn’t want the church to be a community where people set their hopes on material things. If we do, we will quickly find they are not eternally safe. Stocks fall, companies bankrupt, mortgages default, technology goes obsolete, and goods rot and rust away.
A right attitude about money and posessions doesn't start with rules, principles or anything on this earth, rather it starts with God himself. If you put your faith and trust in him first, you will see money and material differently as a result. We’ll look at four shifts in our thinking:
It All Comes from God
God is not trying to take money away from us. We are being invited to share in God’s work and to commit our resources to this work. This invitation is always a privilege. It comes from our need for God, not God’s need for us
The book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell says something that Chrsitians have known all along. He looks at highly successful people in our world, and searches for the origins of their success. Not once does he find a self-made person who engineered 100% of their own success. Each had unique opportunities handed to them, that allowed them to excel. This is how Christians have always known our lives to work!
This is a shift: We are now managing the money, time and talents that have been entrusted to us by God, in order to make sure that God’s work is done. When applied to personal finances, to how we use our time and our natural skills and abilities, this is an absolutely radical concept. It goes to the very core of who we are and how we see ourselves.
We Need to Give
The conventional wisdom concerning money is that we have to learn how to hang on to it, not how to give it away.
We need to give in order to be free: The seductive power of money is undeniable. But it is disarmingly subtle. In ensnares us without our even being aware of it. It wraps chains around our hearts, our minds, our imagination without our even noticing….
There is only one way. The power of money can only be broken by learning to give it away. The basic question is simply, Will I control my money, or will my money control me ?
When we begin to give, the chains begin to break. This can be very uncomfortable, frequently it is painful. Yet once the chains are broken we experience the sheer exhilaration of freedom. Only then do we realize how tightly the chains were wrapped around our heart. Only then can we really understand what Jesus meant when he said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” We were created to give, not to hoard…Jesus wants us to be free.
We need to give in order to find fulfillment:
Enough always seems to be just a little bit more than I have right now. A study was done by an economist called George Barna and it shows that most people seriously believe that they need approximately $8-10,000 more a year to live the way they would like to and no matter how much their income increases they still believe they need 8k-10k more. They never find it.
People who give of their time and resources in service of others will tell you time and time again how incredibly fulfilling it is…that happiness doesn’t come from wealth, financial or otherwise, but rather because they are happy with what God has given, they are able to be contented and happy in all things, and that is a kind of wealth in itself that overflows into all parts of life.
Question: Have you ever found freedom or fulfillment in giving? Why?
This series looks at becoming “like family” with others learning to follow Jesus. We're exploring how the church is not a building, institution or event, but a community of people. It's important that explore what church means as we prepare to launch a new church in Ajax in 2014.