Godly in Giving (Part 3 of 4)

Christians are called to be godly in giving. That could be giving in attitude, time, energy or money – all are important. Here we will focus specifically on the area of money and the way we generously and responsibly use the resources that God has put in our care.

Let me make four points from 1 Timothy 6 which may help our thinking.

First, Godly giving is not a means to financial gain.

Continue reading

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

 

Side by Side – Part 3 (of 3)

The first two posts in this series have offered two observations coming out of 1 Timothy 5:1-16 which may help a church family to further consider what it means to honour and care for those who are most vulnerable.

In the first post, we observed that the widow of 1 Tim 5 was akin to the ‘vulnerable’ today.

In the second post, we observed that when caring for a person in need – everyone is different and everyone can play a part. Five pointers were offered in how to do that.

In this last post, I would like to recommend a good book that works hard to offer principled and practical suggestions for getting alongside a person whom we are trying to love.

Side by Side – Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love by Edward T. Welch (Wheaton: Crossway, 2015).

41kPDt690WL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_

Side by Side by Edward Welch is a quick and helpful read, written by a Christian counselor who has practiced and written in the fields of depression, fear and addiction for decades.

The aim of the book is to identify skills that Christians can learn and then use in caring for others. His basic idea is that those who help best are the ones who both need help and give help.

Continue reading

Side by Side – Part 1 (of 3)

101 5pm church update header

In 1 Timothy 5:1-16 the Apostle Paul offers advise to Timothy (and those in the church that he leads) for honouring others – ‘Give honour to those widows who are really in need’ (5:3).

As he explains this advise, Paul is quite helpful in offering some suggestion in how to treat each widow differently given their particular situation – to the widow with children or grandchildren allow her family to care; to the godly widow who is alone offer her help; to the widow who has no interest in the things of God, exercise care if you help; to the faithful widow who is over sixty put her on the care list, but to the widow under sixty do not. All very specific!

Why?

The driving principle here  is that the church of Jesus should be a help to those who are in most need (5:16) and if there are others like family members who should bear that responsibility, then allow them to do as such.

I take it that there are limited resources and that the wisdom here is to give priority to those who are most at risk- and at that time, it would have been the widow.

In this and the next post, I want to make two observations that may be helpful for our church family. Then in a third post a want to recommend a helpful book.

Continue reading