How does a Christian organise their Godly Giving? (Part 4 of 4)

Over the generations, across the world, and right to your local church family, there will be numerous examples of godly and generous givers. Among those who have given, are many who have given even at times of extreme poverty or hardship (Luke 21:1-4; 2 Cor 8:2). It is right and proper to be immensely thankful to God for these saints (maybe you are one such person). Under God, what has been given has served the gospel and those the gospel has reached for centuries. Godly giving, although rarely put on display, is a wonderful testimony to the power and gift of the gospel. Praise God.

So how should a Christian organise their godly giving?

Let’s look first at our priorities and then at the practical mechanics!

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The Church – universal and local! (Part 3 of 5)

When you became a Christian, your membership in the church took both a universal and a local shape – a wide and narrow view if you like.

Universal Church

The Church universal is the worldwide body of believers who meet in various locations and times around the world and throughout history who all profess faith in Jesus as Lord.

Brothers and sisters who are fleeing for their lives from the Islamic state fighters in Iraq and Syria, those who are on the mission field, those who meet as Christians around your country, and those that meet in the churches in suburbs around your city – are all members with you of the universal church – because we all have the same Lord and Saviour in Jesus.

Jesus speaks of the universal church. When he said to the disciple Peter in Matthew 16:18, ‘I will build my church’ he probably did not have in mind a specific local church on the corner of King David street and Goliath Avenue in Jerusalem! What he meant was that he would build together all those in the years to come, who would be his followers, the members of his body – his universal church.

The Apostle Paul addresses the universal church in Colossae when he says he ‘suffers for the sake of Christ’s body, which is the church’ (Colossians 1:24) and then to Timothy when he speaks of ‘God’s household, which is the church’ (1 Timothy 3:15).

Scripture testifies to the importance of being part of the universal church where we stand shoulder to shoulder with others in faith – even though we may not speak the same language, be from the same culture, have the same lifestyles, live in the same kinds of material circumstance, or even live in the same era of history.

Whenever I spend time with Christians of other cultures or languages, I recognise a beautiful reality – I have more in common with these brothers and sisters in faith than I do with many who don’t yet know Jesus even when they live in my own suburb or city!

Local Church

But scripture also testifies to the ‘Local church’.

The Church local is your immediate church fellowship – the group of Christians with whom you share life with, face to face, week in and out. Those brothers and sisters who know you by name, who pray specifically for you, who help carry your burdens, who celebrate your successes and mourn your losses, and who help you to love and know God better and to serve him and others as you work to grow God’s kingdom.

Paul addresses the local church in 1 and 2 Corinthians (’to the church of God in Corinth’), and in Ephesians (‘to the saints in Ephesus’), 1 & 2 Thessalonians (’to the church of the Thessalonians’), Philippians (‘to all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi’). In Colossians he sends a greeting to ‘Nympha and the church in her house’ (Col 4:15). There is a very particular local church which he has in mind.

As you meet each week with a body of believers, you express your membership in a local church.

Both/And

As Christians, it is important to recognise you belong to both the universal and local church. Why?

For one, quite obviously, there are many more Christians in the world than would be able to meet in your particular church space – but there is a time coming when all Christians will gather around the throne of Christ in eternity and worship as the full universal church. It is a wonderful blessing to recognise our place alongside so many others in Christ.

Yet, it also matters that we meet together as a specific local church, on a regular basis to serve God and others. Christians cannot gather as the universal church to hear the Bible taught and proclaimed, to baptise new believers, to sing songs of praise, to take the Lord’s Supper together, to reach out to the community they come out from, to serve one another, to hold one another accountable, to physically care for, to urge one another on towards love and good deeds.

Meeting in local churches is important for the life and well-being of all Christians.

 

For other articles in this series:

Belonging to Church

Membership

The Church – universal and local!

Draw Near to God and to Others

Core in Membership

 

Happy Thanksgiving

A psalm. For giving grateful praise.

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
    Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.

(Psalm 100)

Have you ever had one of those ‘flat days’ – you know those days when you just feel blar? (a technical term!!). A day when the idea of ‘worship’ or ‘praise’ seems so removed from your mental space – I have them often.

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Why leave a ‘church’?

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The question ‘Why leave a ‘church?’ may be a dangerous question to ask, especially on a church blog!

The reality is that all churches have people leave them – for both wise and unwise reasons. It is worth spending some time thinking about why one would take the step of leaving a ‘church’ and then further considering how to do that well. That said, I am hoping that no one reading this will in fact leave 5pm Church as a result!Trinity City 'Five by 5' Challenge - hand

In the previous two articles we have considered ‘What is ‘Church’?’ and then ‘What to expect of ‘Church’?‘ which as background should help establish that leaving a church should be thought about carefully – that is not a decision that should be made hastily or prayerlessly. If ‘church’ is about God’s people gathering as a family in Christ around his Word, it should give some pause for thought to a person when deciding to stay or to go. Leaving means leaving a family and a place where God’s word should be key to their fellowship.

Changing churches or leaving church altogether is no small thing.

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What is ‘Church’?

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Christians do Church. Some more regularly than others!

Why on earth do we commit ourselves to regularly going to Church? To answer that, let’s first think theologically about ‘church’.

What is ‘Church’?Trinity City 'Five by 5' Challenge - hand

Presumable if we are to be members of church, we need to understand what Church is!

Very simply, Church is an assembly of God’s people.

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