Monday, February 14, 2011

To take a gift to the believers there.

Rom. 15:25-33 NLT

   25 But before I come, I must go to Jerusalem to take a gift to the believers there. 26 For you see, the believers in Macedonia and Achaia have eagerly taken up an offering for the poor among the believers in Jerusalem. 27 They were glad to do this because they feel they owe a real debt to them. Since the Gentiles received the spiritual blessings of the Good News from the believers in Jerusalem, they feel the least they can do in return is to help them financially. 28 As soon as I have delivered this money and completed this good deed of theirs, I will come to see you on my way to Spain. 29 And I am sure that when I come, Christ will richly bless our time together. 
   30 Dear brothers and sisters, I urge you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to join in my struggle by praying to God for me. Do this because of your love for me, given to you by the Holy Spirit. 31 Pray that I will be rescued from those in Judea who refuse to obey God. Pray also that the believers there will be willing to accept the donation I am taking to Jerusalem. 32 Then, by the will of God, I will be able to come to you with a joyful heart, and we will be an encouragement to each other. 
   33  And now may God, who gives us his peace, be with you all. Amen.

Paul was the Christian World's first country hopping missionary. Everywhere he went God planted the Church and believers left in his wake. The geographical center for 'The Church' was in Jerusalem.  Believers were moving about the known world, sometimes facing trials but more often thriving. Yet believers in Jerusalem were under the thumb of the Jewish rulers and their political counterparts among Roman government. They were starving because the were being locked out of food and employment by their faithful stand for Christ.

God moved the gentile believers around the growing church of Christ-followers to reach out with compassion to their Hebrew brothers and sisters in Christ stuck in this terrible situation. Thus God replaces the social safety net that the Temple was to Jews with a social safety system collected voluntarily from compassionate Christ-like hearts around the world to sustain those of the body in greatest need. That practice has not been lost in the 21st century Body of Christ. There are physical needs today around the world that God calls us to address in His name and love. We are the hands and feet of our Lord here on earth. When you see someone in need what do you do? Do you think to ask our Lord whether He would have you show some love and compassion? Do you judge the individual for perceived past poor decisions leading to their circumstance?  When you hear of someone in the church you attend suffering a great need, do you ask the Lord if he has a role reserved for you to play in that brother or sister's life?

Paul urged the Roman Christians to join him in serving the needs of the Christian poor in Jerusalem. Where is your Jerusalem? The World Wide mission movement has been fueled through the faithful generosity of Christian Churches from America across the last two centuries but it was first sent to us by Christians in Europe. Then it became our turn. Sure there were mistakes made and money was treated as power rather than a source of Christian compassion. Sure there are 'Christian' projects in this nation and others where 'power' is the real goal and not compassion. But isn't God still calling you and me to be faithful with our resources and share compassion with the needs of others? I think so. Why not pray about that right now, today, and seek what the Lord has for you to do?

Your servant in Christ's Faithfulness

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