The modern Christian interpretation of compartmentalized life is not biblical.
What I mean by this is the “church as a hobby” mentality, and it is leaving us malnourished and unsatisfied spiritually. I don’t know if it is a purely American or Western deviation, but the church has simply never thrived when it is so severed and segmented like it is nowadays. Ask our Chinese or Indian brothers and sisters if they can survive plenty fine by themselves. They would probably tell you, because I have heard their testimonies, that their FELLOWSHIP or their in-commonness is what gets them through their trials.
Several ills seem to be present in us American Christians when we compare ourselves with other Christians from these countries. One is that we are basely selfish and don’t wont other people touching our stuff. Period. Two: we have not ever endured hardship to KNOW that God really does provide help and all that we need to survive. Three: we have priorities completely out of wack to be able to live collectively or for each other. We don’t want to share and would rather scoff at anyone who has lack and make some sweeping statement that those fakes just didn’t try hard enough. Now, sometimes they indeed DID NOT try at all, but sometimes they did and they are truly in need. Many times we can’t get to the bottom of what ails them before we are asked to help or are in a position to help. We usually find a very sound excuse not too…even sometimes citing that we are barely getting by ourselves. “Barely getting by,” for an American is better translated, “Not having everything we want…yet.” Maybe I will help when I have everything set the way I want it. No, my friend…that is selfish…and you will not end up helping anyone because your personal well-being is your number one concern. You are NOT caring for others more than yourself.
Love the Lord your God will all you got. And love your neighbor MORE THAN YOU LOVE YOURSELF.
Notice how “self” somehow always falls to the bottom of the biblical list.
Without diving into another, seemingly negative, rant on the American Church…I want to attempt to offer practical help and proper Bible-based mindsets to get us to the point where we can live better, simpler, or share more. Or at least maybe we can become more like the Church of Acts– in the process. Because, newsflash, it IS a process. Here goes:
First, we must accept the fact that everything we have or own is actually God’s. We don’t “own” anything, whether we worked hard for it or not. The world is COMPLETELY the Lord’s and all that is in it. I heard a great statement once that went something like this, “Keep your fingerprints off of God’s money, God’s women, and God’s glory.” I think, keeping with the shtick, that this goes for God’s stuff as well. We can live so much more “lightly” when when gain a proper, biblical perspective of possession and money. I am a servant and a Bondslave…last I checked, they don’t get paid. All I have is the Lord’s. Yes, that is still hard for me to admit, even when I have less than I used to.
Next, I feel it necessary that we Believers see ourselves in light of togetherness. We are part of the same Body, family, or fellowship. Choose which term you are most apt to respond favorably to. Again, we need to learn to need each other. With this perspective, we can much more easily be of one mind and achieve something close to true Unity. A natural byproduct of this biblical unity–IN CHRIST JESUS–is a willingness to SHARE wealth and resources. My friends and fellow laborers in the Lord are just as important to me as my own family. I seek that they should be taken care of or provided for just as much as my immediate children and wife.
Lastly, I feel this whole issue comes down to trusting Jesus and His Word. Will He rise up and provide? Will He help us when we can’t figure out what to do or how to proceed? When disaster or peril or famine or poverty strike hard, will He protect us? Well, the Bible says He will…YES to all! See, the Lord will go before us…He will have the victory. We are so very helpless in our flesh anyway. Not by your power or your might, but by MY SPIRIT, says the Lord. Our God is a warrior; our God is an ever-present help in times of trouble. He will be our rear and fore guard. Is their anything too impossible for Him?
The breakdown to all this comes when we read the Bible, agree intellectually…but have never or will never allow God to put us in a place or position to have no choice but to trust Him. A place where He is our ONLY hope. The day we let Him get us there is the day He truly becomes our God–our Yahweh Jireh (God who Provides). It is an ultimately sad fact that we will hardly ever let God touch us the way He touched Job, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, but blessed be the Name of the Lord.” I can honestly say, through much calamity and breaking and teaching and blessing…I am starting to see my God like this.
But let us not forget how the Book of Job ends…after all the junk this man went through–loosing daughters and sons, wealth and possession, personal comfort–HE SEES GOD.
“I have heard Thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eyes seeth Thee. Wherefore I abhor MYSELF, and repent in dust and ashes.”–Job 42:5-6
I don’t know about you, but I want to see God. And I am willing to do what it takes. In this is freedom. In this is fullness of life. In this is Revival. In this is visible…the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
In the next installment of COMMUNIFICATION, we will look at some logistics.
Two men I always think of when it comes to trusting God: George Müller & Gideon