December 10, 2009
I’ve had rattling around in my mind lately this idea to set up some kind of buy/ sell/ trade/ barter/ share group (for services/ skills/ talents/ even giftings etc, as well as things/ goods) among believers in our community and/or local region. Sort of an “Acts 4:32-35 in Action” group – with a 21st century twist… (This idea has risen out of a “data base” I have been gathering of all the churches and related organizations and outreaches in our area… it’s nice to have that data base… but what do we DO with it? How do we BE THE CHURCH together, once we’ve found each other?!?!?)
Remember those verses? “And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul: and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales, and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need.”
This could include “buying and selling” among our brothers and sisters according to ability to pay, as well as trading, bartering, sharing, giving freely. And people sharing their homes with other believers, not just as meeting places for gatherings of the church, but also daily hospitality, sharing meals, even taking in people in need (or giving them full use of that cottage, etc, until they are “back on their feet”)… (and whatever happened to “billeting”?!?!? Why do visiting evangelists, missions teams, etc now have to raise money to stay in hotels? Scary!)
And it would also include posting up our talents and skills and giftings…. Giving the “Dorcas/ Tabitha’s” connections with those who need their skills (and opportunity to teach those skills to others who lack them)… and creating connections within the “local churches” within the “church in our community” (sharing our programs, buildings, even sharing those in “our” group who have various spiritual gifts which may be lacking in “their” group; getting together to reach out into our communities in a way that is more effective than each little group trying desperately to do a little bit alone)…
1 Corinthians 12:7 “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the “spiritual” spiritual gifts, that we tend to ignore or downplay the significance and need for the “practical” spiritual gifts (helps, administrations, hospitality, etc)… (and sometimes we do the opposite, too)… And sometimes we spend a lot of time talking about them, but not acting on them… But ALL the gifts are needed, and all are foundationally given and led by Your Spirit… and ONLY IN ACTION are they MANIFEST… only in the ACTION of the church, led by the Spirit, is the love of God manifested to the world. “They’ll know we are Christians by our love” … and that love is LOVE IN ACTION… so that the world will “take note that we’ve been with Jesus” – with God, who IS LOVE! It’s interesting that in the time of the early church, the world outside the church noticed the church and admired it because of the “love they had for one another.” Love that showed itself in the amazing actions recorded in Acts 4:32-35… 24-7 daily love, lived out TOGETHER in homes and marketplace and community, not hidden away behind “sacred walls” so to speak.
I love that expression: “the manifestation of the Spirit!”
Miriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary Tenth Edition, defines as follows:
Manifest (adj): from L manifestus: caught in the act, flagrant, obvious [can we say that our love for one another is flagrant?!?!?]… 1. readily perceived by the senses and esp. by the sight. 2. easily understood or recognized by the mind.
Manifest (vt): to make evident or certain by showing or displaying.
Manifestation: 1. the act, process, or an instance of manifesting. 2. a public demonstration of power and purpose [and where does the church’s power come from? “the manifestation of the Spirit!”]
Manifesto: a written statement declaring publically the intentions, motives, and view of its issuer [well, we’ve been given the manifesto: but we are also called to manifest! … which goes beyond just teaching/ preaching: “readily perceived by the senses” … “caught in the act, flagrant, obvious” ! … what an accurate description of Jesus! … can it become an accurate description of us too, as we allow His Spirit to manifest Him through us – together?!?!?!]