In every generation of Christians, there have been those who have thrown away their inherited ideas about what it means to be a Christian and what the Church should look like. They have thrown away their preconceptions and simply opened the Bible and sought to put into practice what they read there.
WHEN Jesus was on the cross he cried out: “It is finished” (John 19:30)
The work that the Father had sent him to do, he had done. And this work was to show us how to live, to show us the kingdom of God, to show us how to live in right relationship with our Father and each other, to show us the beauty of living to serve, to show us the power and glory and healing of the reign of God.
“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered in sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table…” (Luke 16:19-21)
Every generation has its ‘Lazarus’: the poor, mistreated, abused, and neglected. Part of this generation’s Lazarus is the third world migrants who wash up on the shores of Europe. Their governments oppress them, abuse them, imprison them, torture them; so those that can escape head for the rich man’s gate known as Europe.
I’ve never made a cake, but this is what I think you’d need:
A good kitchen with a decent table. An oven. The ingredients. Time and no distractions. A mixing bowl and the various bits of pans and stuff to make it. (I’ve really never made one).
If you were, for example, in a warehouse, with the oven on one side of the warehouse, the table on the other side, half the ingredients missing, no mixing bowl, forklifts driving by you, and only three minutes to make it in, then the forklift drives over the pan and squashes it, you would, I think, find it very difficult to make a cake.
Those who are truly born of God have had a deep transformation in their hearts. They are not hard work to disciple, and they will not remain committed to their old life with its addictions and values. We need to become sharp in identifying those who are born of God and those who are not- not so we can condemn, but so we can pray for them.
When the church is struggling, the temptation for the leaders is to point the finger. It can be easy for leaders to exhort the congregation, point out their faults, and bemoan their stubbornness and their reservations.
Instead, those of us in leadership must take the blame.
Corporate wealth will always eventually end up as a snare and a stumbling block to the Church and ours will be no exception. How will we know when we are too rich? We seem so far from being the “Church of the poor” that we style ourselves as.
In the book of Judges Gideon heard the call of God to fight. He tested the Lord to make sure the calling was God’s plan and not his own. He started out to fight the Midianites with 32,000 men. The Lord stripped away his men (symbolising Israel’s own resources and natural strength) until he had only 300 men left. The enemy against them “lay along the valley like locusts in abundance, and their camels were without number, as the sand that is on the seashore in abundance”.