Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Developing a Simple Life-Style - No 4 - The New Community

Ministry with children at risk in favelas in Brazil
NEW COMMUNITY. We rejoice as the church is the new community of the new age, whose members enjoy a new life in a new lifestyle. The earliest Christian Church, constituted in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost, was characterized by a quality of fellowship unknown before. Those Spirit-filled believers loved one another to such an extent that they sold and shared their possessions. Although their selling and giving were voluntary, and some private property was retained (Acts 5:4), it was made subservient to the needs of the community. None of them said that anything he had was his own (Acts 4:32) that is, they were free from the selfish assertion of property rights. And as a result of their transformed economic relationships, there was not a needy person among them (Acts 4:34).

This principle of generous and sacrificial sharing, expressed in holding ourselves and our goods available for people in need, is an Indispensable characteristic of every Spirit-filled church. So those of us who are affluent in any part of the world, are determined to do more to relieve the needs of less privileged believers. Otherwise we shall be like those rich Christians in Corinth who ate and drank too much while their poor brothers and sisters were left hungry, and we shall deserve the stinging rebuke Paul gave them for despising God’s church and desecrating Christ’s body (1 Corinthians 11:20-24).

Instead, we are determined to resemble them at a later stage when Paul urged them out of their abundance to give to the impoverished Christians of Judea “that there may be equality.” (2 Corinthians 8:10- 15). It was a beautiful demonstration of caring love and of Gentile-Jewish solidarity in Christ. In the same spirit, we must seek ways to transact the church’s corporate business together with minimum expenditure on travel, food and accommodation. We call on churches and para-church agencies in their planning to be acutely aware of the need for integrity in corporate lifestyle and witness.

Christ calls us to be the world’s salt and light, in order to hinder its social decay and illumine its darkness. But our light must shine and our salt must retain its taste. It is when the new community is most obviously distinct from the world – in his values, standards and lifestyle – that it presents the world with a radically attractive alternative and so exercises its greatest influence for Christ. We commit ourselves to pray and work for the renewal of our churches.

(This is part 4 of a series of 10 blog posts. Developing a Simple Life-Style was a conference with 85 evangelical leaders from 27 countries at High Leigh Conference Center, London, England March 17-21, 1980)

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