The 501c3 middleman can be a tremendous hindrance to blessing hurting people one-on-one. Personal ministry requires personal finance. For the most part, institutions aren't in touch with those within your spheres of influence. You are!
Money is a great way to show Love and Hospitality, but it's hard for many to bless their neighbors when they are living paycheck-to-paycheck and the religious system is sucking their "expendable" income dry. Wealthy people have "neighbors" (see Luke 10:25-37) that the middleman doesn't serve well either.
I'll save the blog entry about people constantly "sowing their best seed" under fear, guilt, compulsion, and the guise of a guaranteed "100-fold return" for another day.
The New Testament does not teach that the institution is "The Best Ground for your Best Seed", nor does it teach that a building is "The House of God", or that the "tithe" for an expired Levitical Priesthood belongs to a special, modern class of holy men and the upkeep of holy buildings.
Tithes are mentioned by Jesus only once (Matthew 23:23 & Luke 11:42- Same Story), while He was addressing people who were still functioning under the Old Covenant (before the cross), and by Paul in Hebrews 7...as he was speaking of an old system which was passing away, and would be completely non-existent once the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and Herod's Temple in 70 A.D.. In his epistles, Paul encouraged Loving, Spirit-led, generous giving, but never "tithing" of fruits, vegetables, grain, wine, money, or anything else.
Added Note: This blog entry is meant to promote GENEROSITY and Loving our neighbors. Stinginess and selfishness most certainly aren't Christ-like traits. I'm also not saying that tax-deductible donations are inherently evil...or anything like that. We give to 501c3s that are reaching people in places where we can't go. They have their place, but they're most definitely not the automatic, Biblical default setting.
Peace & Love!
Luke 2:14 (Passage in the picture) has no "You'll need to wait for over 2,000 years for this to even begin to unfold." caveat! We have been called to actively participate in its unfolding!
Isaiah 9:7 "Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this."
The Cross didn't end or pause any of this. It expanded it!
That's right! What the manger initiated, the cross expanded!
Blessed are the Peacemakers!
Peace & Love to All!
Our Love for one another, the quality of our friendships and our willingness to include others into such deep Koinonia will produce greater, lasting results than marketing, lectures, fear, and programs ever will.
People hunger to belong to a FAMILY, where they can be fully functional members whose words, thoughts, and actions contribute to the family's purpose and well-being, transform their communities, and ultimately change the world.
"I give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other."
It's strange that "The Fruit of the Spirit" is seldom mentioned when "Great moves of the Holy Spirit" are being discussed.
Imagine a MOVE of Love, Joy, Peace, Perseverance, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, & Self Control!
I'm no Cessationist, but if our "Charismatic Moves" haven't greatly impacted the world with these beautiful expressions of the Nature of Christ, then perhaps we've missed something really BIG.
It might also be a great idea to focus more on the Beatitudes than "Who's Who in the Five-Fold Zoo", and our "Special Meeting" goose bumps which had no lasting impact beyond the "church" parking lot.
Peace & Love!
I believe that the purest answer lies within what the word "euangelion" meant to the original, First Century hearers. It was a widely used term which had no religious connotations at the time, and was understood as the heralding of one of three things: The Birth of a King, The Triumph of a King over his enemies, and a Regime Change (New King/New Order).
Hence, when the early church used the word "Euangelion"/Gospel, it was understood that a new King had been born, that He had defeated His enemies, and that there was indeed a regime change when Jesus was officially coronated through the finished work of the cross. Making those claims about Jesus was a revolutionary declaration that "Jesus is King" (and Caesar is not).
It meant so much more than today's typical "Evangelical" message. While there are many components of "The Gospel", I believe that what I have described is the crux of the Gospel. Just as "Hail to the Chief" is used to herald a U.S. President, "Euangelion" was a word reserved specifically for the ruling Caesar (or his successor) of that day.
Peace & Love!
There are Rabbis and Imams who sound like mad men. There are also many of them who sound more like Jesus than a good number of their professing, Christian counterparts; especially on matters pertaining to peaceful, loving coexistence.
I Love Jesus, The Prince of Peace, and believe with all of my heart that He is The Way, The Truth, The Life, The Resurrection, The Brightness of the Father's Glory, and the Express Image of His Person. My problem is not with Him, it's with the preachers and politicians who have knowingly or unwittingly misrepresented Him as a warmongering, real estate tycoon Who is bent on the ethnic cleansing of "bad people" in order for the "chosen people" to get what is rightfully theirs.
Too many people have taken on the role of judge, jury, and executioner (or simply supported it through proxy nations), instead of following the Beatitudes. Others are so ignorantly bent on historical, First Century calamities being unleashed (a second time...which has no solid, Biblical or historical foundation) in their lifetime, that they actually long for war and the destruction of "the bad people".
The sad irony is that The Great Commission has everything to do with bringing LIFE and nothing to do with God's "chosen people" being purveyors of ethnic cleansing and destruction.
We have been called to be Peace Makers, not Crusaders!
Peace, Salam, & Shalom!
Theology matters. It shapes our worldview and our worldview shapes how we treat people and creation in general.
There are plenty of folks who will tell you that they're "not into Theology". Many of those same folks will also be quick to tell you "What the Bible clearly says". Whether you are an avid student of the Bible or someone who has checked all of your denomination's "What We Believe" boxes, you have a theology.
For the most part, our worldview is either based upon personal study, with the Holy Spirit as our primary Teacher, or we receive it by defaulting to someone else's prescribed settings.
Theology is best forged through a life-long, personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the Body of Christ, as He Lives His Life through His people who are one with The Word and Words within the Word (The Logos/Logic of God).
Lo, in the volume of the Book it is written of us, to do Your Will O God!
Peace & Love!
Christian Community at its best is an all-inclusive ministry of many colors where every member is a respected joint of supply; juxtaposed to the "One Man Show", which is dominated by the color of the one man, regardless of the colors of his supporting cast of "lackeys". The former is a multi-cultural, multi-racial expression of ONE HOLY RACE where Jesus is the Head, while the latter often makes that claim, yet has an extra head, and falls dreadfully short of the mark.
Religion clings to that which is Lifeless and rigid. Wind, Water, Light, Fire, & Wine aren't rigid. Where there is no allowance for freedom and flow in the Spirit, fulness of Joy, in the present, seems like a cruel, elusive, and heretical notion.
Most of today's church systems are set up like bad pot-luck dinners in five-star restaurant buildings; where just one person brings a dish, everyone shares from that one flavor, and money is collected for the upkeep of the elaborate restaurant and the salaries of the one-dish-chef and his or her staff. This was not the case in the First Century Church, where the church met in homes and every member was truly a joint of supply during their regular gatherings.