Very recently I spoke at a Gresham Chamber of Commerce event. This annual event has been held here in the MV church facility for the past several years. It’s a breakfast fundraiser for SnowCap and My Father’s House in Gresham. My assigned topic was “The Reason for the Season” and how important generosity is right now. As I prepared to speak, I did some research on the current state of generosity in the U.S... I was shocked by what I read!
I found headlines like this: “Highly religious people are less likely motivated by compassion than non-believers.” “Atheists more motivated by compassion than the faithful.” “Why non-religious people act more out of empathy.” “Children from non-religious homes are more generous than their peers…”
Yikes! This can’t be true! What has happened to the Church? After all, compassion, kindness, and generosity are supposed to be the marks of Christianity! Has modern Christianity wandered so far away from the way Christians were in the early church?
What about the early church? Let’s take a look… Luke, the writer, described in the book of Acts what a vibrant, committed, Jesus-focused community looked like… In Acts 2, Dr. Luke said, “they had favor with all the people.” Why? Because they were devoted to the Apostles’ teaching, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayer…all who believed were united and had many things in common. As a matter of fact, they sold their possessions and belongings and helped people in need.
In chapter 4, Luke gave a more complete description of what these early Christians were like…
All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had. The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all. There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need. Acts 4:32-35 NLT
Ladies studying the Book of Acts in your Grow Groups, please verify with me… Isn’t it true that Luke identified a signature characteristic of the early church? What was the public reputation of the first Christians? In one word, isn’t it generosity?
Mountainview, let’s make sure those headlines do not describe us! Let’s be an example to our children and to our city. Let’s be generous, kind, compassionate people. Let me challenge all of us to be more like the first Christians and the first church.
As I write, I keep thinking of Colossians 3, where Paul wrote to new Christians to remind them of what they should and shouldn’t wear. He wasn’t talking about literal clothing, but the spiritual clothing God had for them. I appreciate the way Eugene Peterson paraphrased it in The Message…
So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, and discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
Colossians 3:12-14 MSG
Paul was not making a suggestion. This was a mandate for all who follow Jesus. These “clothes” are timeless. No matter what happens, no matter how bad things get, let’s wear these clothes. If we do, then the Gospel will be proclaimed, lives will be changed, and faith will multiply.
Grace & Peace,