It’s easy to become discouraged in our walk with Christ. The mission ahead is daunting and the pressures against us mount every day. There are so many in the world who hunger and thirst, how can we ever reach them all? Every day wars are creating more orphans and widows, and we haven’t yet begun to be able to help the ones we had the day before. We long to live a life that looks like Jesus, but the odds against us seem increasingly overwhelming. So many die without ever knowing the peace and love that can come only from Jesus; our hearts ache and we become paralyzed at the work before us.
Too often the church can be a very competitive place. As we have allowed materialism to penetrate our faith, pressures have grown to keep up with what others are doing and to draw attention to our product or places of worship. Entire industries exist to service the Christian population with the requisite favorite authors, speakers and musicians. We squabble over who’s more talented, who’s better spoken and who is most effective. It reminds me of when the twelve disciples were arguing about which one of them was greatest in the eyes of Jesus (Mark 9:33-37). Jesus made it clear that they were asking the wrong question and that the only way to become great was to sacrifice all thoughts of becoming so.
I want to start with a disclaimer: I currently attend a large church (4,000+ attendees each week). Perhaps it is because of this that I have recently been pondering if perhaps the so-called megachurches of our day are hindering the spread of the Gospel. Hang with me here, because I’m only stopping to consider some questions that have been troubling me.
This is not an indictment of any church based solely on their size. I know of many good things being done by large churches across the world. As I study the New Testament model for churches however, I am struck by how far we have deviated from that original design. [Read more…] about How Big is Too Big?
Why are we here? What is God’s will for me? What should I do with my life? We’ve all asked some form of this question repeatedly throughout our lives. It wasn’t always this way in the church. There was a time when people knew exactly why they were here and what they were supposed to be doing with their time on the planet.
There was no consternation as to which vocation to pursue. The early believers understood the message of Christ clearly, and it’s this very message that the church at large, and the Western church in particular, has so muddled over the past couple hundred years. [Read more…] about Your Life’s Mission
Nothing demonstrates love more clearly than generosity. When we are willing to give of ourselves to another, we exhibit the character of God who was so generous as to give His only Son for our salvation. Generosity is rarely easy as it involves a sacrifice of some sort. It is by this sacrifice that we show our love to the object of our giving. To truly demonstrate love, our generosity must be done with the proper attitude. If we give to someone out of obligation or guilt then we have missed the point. I Corinthians 13:3 says that if we donate everything we have to feed the poor, but don’t love the poor, then we have gained nothing. So while love is generous, generosity can only be expressed through love. It’s a beautiful example of how true love always comes full circle; it is complete and whole.
One way we can choose to be generous is by giving of our time. Taking a few minutes to stop whatever we are doing to focus on a conversation with someone else is a great gift. In today’s society we have become so busy and self absorbed that listening is becoming a lost art. Merely concentrating on what someone else is saying ascribes great worth to that person. You are letting them know that at that moment they are the most important person in the world. I know of someone in my fellowship who visits an elderly, home-bound woman every single Sunday; the woman has no family, yet she is loved through the tender generosity of another giving up her Sunday afternoons to be with her. What a beautiful picture. Putting the needs of someone else before your own always involves sacrificing your time. I guarantee it will be time well spent.
Another way we can demonstrate love through generosity is by giving of our abilities. All of us have skills, gifts or talents that can be used to help someone else. Look for opportunities in the lives of others where you might interject yourself in ways that will bless them. If you’re a good listener, invite a troubled person out for coffee and just let them talk. If you are handy, consider doing odd jobs for elderly or poor folks who have no other means of getting the work done. Perhaps you are a savvy mechanic; why not walk around your neighborhood looking for troubled vehicles you can help repair? If you can sew, you could take in mending from your neighbors. There are countless ways to be generous with your abilities; don’t keep them to yourself!
Of course we can be generous financially as well. If you have the luxury of a roof, clothing and food you are truly blessed. Why not give to bless others in the same way. Millions are homeless and billions are hungry. With nearly half the world earning less than $2 per day, think what a difference even small financial gifts can make. How easy would it be for most of us to find a way to give $2 a day to someone in need? Just imagine, we could effectively double the annual income of someone with little sacrifice to ourselves. Think what we could accomplish with a large sacrifice! We truly do have the ability to change the world if we will only release what God has given to us and generously give it away to someone who has less than we do. Pay for someone’s groceries at the store. Randomly hand some money to a person who is obviously struggling. Leave large tips for service regardless of the quality. Generous giving is both fun and contagious.
We cannot love by keeping it all to ourselves. Love compels us to share what we have with others. Jesus poured out His blood, His very life, for you and for me. It doesn’t get more generous than that. This week focus on how you might generously give of the time, abilities, and money God has entrusted to you. I recommend writing down some tangible ways you will demonstrate the love of God through your own generosity. In fact, I encourage you to leave a comment below to share how you will be generous this week, and then check back and let everyone know how it turned out. Your tales of generosity will inspire others as well, so you can begin being generous simply by sharing your ideas. Love is generous; it holds back nothing for itself. Jesus gave everything for us, the ultimate example of generosity. Actively look for ways in which you might give of yourself to others through acts of generosity. In this way you will demonstrate the love of God to someone in need. This is what it means to follow Jesus; this is what it means to love.