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The Heart of the Church

Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart is also.” (Luke 12:34)   Where should the Church’s heart be?  Here we present four areas which hitherto the Church has neglected.

First, the Church’s heart should remain in existing communities,  not in creating new ones. Here “community” is meant in a broad sense, as a group of people brought together by some common bond, whether it be common interest, common responsibility, or common location.  A “community” can be office or office building, school, or sports league as well as common living area.

Conversely, the Church’s heart should NOT be in creating their own separate, new communities in separate, new facilities.  The Church should be asset lite in physical capital, but asset heavy in spiritual capital.  As much as possible, the homes and equipment of individuals should be utilized and not duplicated by “church property”.

It is true that currently many churches have  "cell groups", “home groups” or “home fellowships”.  Unfortunately, these are almost always manifestations of “church imperialism”, and function as  “colonies”  for the church “empires” which spawned them.  The leaders, and most of the attenders, all belong to the same church.  The majority are not neighbors at all, but have to drive to the meeting.

Second, the Church’s heart should be wholly with the poor.  Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” – and one aspect of spiritual poverty is to identify with those who are spiritually poor. We should be with them in service, in giving,  in sharing, in helping.

The Church must honestly face up to the question:  Why are Christians no different from anyone else?  The obvious answer is, Because there is no basic lifestyle difference. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.  You cannot serve God and mammon.  You cannot strive to live well  by the world’s standards, and also serve God well.  There are always tradeoffs.  The money and time you spend on your own possessions and comfort is to a large extent money and time which could have been spent investing in the poor and needy.

In the New Testament, the only collections mentioned were for the poor (Romans 15:26, 1 Co. 16:1-2) – not to support the pastorate, nor the building fund, nor even missionaries.    What in the world has happened to the Church? In a word, the world has happened – we have embraced worldly principles and procedures.

Though rich, He became poor, that  we through His poverty might be rich” (2 Cor. 8:9).  Jesus was incarnated a poor man among poor.  If we want to be different and make a difference, we too must leave privilege and embrace poverty – by embracing both the poor and their lifestyle.

Third, the Church’s heart should go out the unreached.  Why do we keep turning over ground which is already plowed?  Why do we keep gleaning fields which have already been harvested?

We are like the man who looks for his lost coin in the lighted street, rather than the dark alley in which he lost it.  There is an obvious reason for our behavior, though we do not want to own up to it.  We feel comfortable and safe in the lighted street.  That is much more important to us than finding our lost coin.

Paul went where Gospel had not been preached (Ro. 15:20-21).  So should we.  If we ourselves absolutely cannot go (and truthfully many of us could, but don't), we should be preoccupied with raising up others who can – in particular, our children.  We should instill in them a passion to be the brightest light in the darkest place.

Fourth, the Church’s heart should be in understanding, appreciating, and sensitively managing the natural world.  God commissioned Adam to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth and manage it -- NOT to overpower it, dominate it, and beat it into submission.  In Christ this commission has been extended, so that we are responsible for the spiritual environment as well as the physical.  Preachers and teachers in general neglect the physical commission, instead focusing exclusively on the spiritual, which they feel is much more important.  They have not taken to heart Jesus’ words: “If, then, you have not been true in your use of the wealth of this life, who will give into your care the true wealth? ”  (Luke 16:11-12)   Only  through faithful, compassionate, and sensitive stewardship of the natural environment are we rendered fit for spiritual stewardship:  "The just regardeth the lives of his beasts: but the bowels of the wicked are cruel."  (Prov. 12:10)

Prayer: Father, instruct Your children's hearts, that our hearts  will move to where your heart is.

Cross Pollen
e-mail: thornroot@juno.com
Copyright © 2003 CrossPollen
Last Revised: February 16, 2003

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