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Acts of Love

An Examination of the Essential Work of the Body of Christ.

Ideal for those well acquainted with our thought process at Ammi Ruhama Community

There’s an awful lot that the body of Christ is responsible for implementing in the world both past and present. We have started hospitals, orphanages, quasi-welfare regimes, government reform and more. We get up to all kinds of biblically rationalised schemes that occupy the service time of the average believer and take up a good deal of the professional’s time planning and implementing summer camps, vacation bible schools, inner city evangelism, as well as the programs that run throughout the year including crises pregnancy centres, inner city sports clubs, youth groups, school prayer groups, small groups, counselling services, six weekly classes of Sunday school, children’s church the Sunday message and Wednesday night Bible Study. This is a conservative account of everything going on in an average body. It seems like a lot of good things are happening, but are they the things that are supposed to be happening?

Let me be clear. I grew up doing these things–heck I eventually put these things on myself in a leadership capacity, but I have since taken a step back to ask if we are like the child who merely guesses at what their parents want them to do rather than simply asking and doing? We have definitely been told something to do, but the more I consider it, the more it looks like we’re like the child who does everything but what Dad has asked us to do in an attempt to mitigate our disobedience. We are hoping God will be pleased that we have rearranged our Bibles by size and in alphabetical order instead of cleaning our room like he asked. My approach to this problem is my belief that everything we are commanded in the Word to do, we are meant to personally do. There is no provision in the Word for outsourcing obedience to Christ. So, what is it we are called to personally do as the people of God who have received mercy, and perhaps more pressingly, what is it that mature believers in God are meant to edify and equip the saints to be able to do? First, a little reality check.

That’s Not Why We’re Here

I know of a certain believer who, at the time of our conversation, led a certain children’s ministry in a certain church and had a heart to disciple the students who were under them in this ministry with at least one student whose salvation was doubtful–but literally didn’t have the time provided to do it because of that ministry. Reaching these students wasn’t the purpose of why they had been given this ministry, it was because of their degree that they had been given a place of honour and so the utilization of that degree in the program meant that these students came, they helped out and they left week after week after week. They were doing a stellar job in their ministry as it was presented to them, but because their discipleship fell outside of this mature believer’s ministry there was no provision for that essential act of obedience to take place in the normal functioning of their ministry. The outsourcing of reaching the children of the body to this one believer and their team caused a failure in the normal everyday functioning of the body of Christ. Not because they didn’t do a good job, but because discipleship was not the ministry mandate–some other manufactured program was. When we get tunnel vision in the body of Christ for fulfilling our ministry mandates without making disciples of Jesus, we are no better than Disney+ or Netflix. We might as well stick our children in front of Stranger Things on Sunday because that’s how much we are raising them up to reproducing maturity in Christ.

When we outsource our obedience in order to focus more fully on our specific program that is when people fall through the cracks. That is how people can grow up in the church for 15 or 20 years and still walk away thinking they know everything there is to know about being a part of the body of Christ and still miss it–they were never discipled in the first place. It was always somebody else’s job. So what do we do but make it a specific person’s job and outsource that responsibility more concretely. Now we have a discipleship pastor! Oh boy, if discipleship doesn’t happen now at least we have somebody we can fire! A scapegoat; because we’re not going to stop outsourcing our obedience to Christ! There’s too much work to be done, and I don’t want to be the one to do it; it’s not my “vocation,”. God didn’t tell me to do it. He didn’t call me here or there–to this people or that people. The rationalization of our disobedience never ends and it goes so far back in most cases that it is no wonder that we have the kind of organisational disintegration we have. To the best of my knowledge we don’t know when making full reproducing disciples of Christ became secondary to our programs but it was at that point that the Symbiotic Organisation took over and replaced the people of God who have received mercy as the symbol and front for Christianity.

I Wish Someone Would Shut the Doors

If God called us to shut our doors, would we? Stop Youth Group? Stop Sunday School? Stop the Sunday Message? Stop Prayer Group? Stop all of our ministries? How many people would remain to disciple one another into full reproducing maturity in Christ? A dozen? Half Dozen maybe? Even though this is our one job? Most likely. How long could we feasibly keep the church building and all of the vehicles and infrastructure built around these ministries? Could we still claim to take care of orphans and widows if there is no ministry devoted to it? Can we still claim to take care of unwed mothers and the fatherless children of our community if we don’t have a crises pregnancy centre? Can we still claim to care for the poor and the homeless if the foodbank isn’t at our building and we stop the soup bus to the inner city? Stripped of all of our conveniences and outsourcing, will we welcome the homeless poor into our homes? Will we help pay the bills of the widows and single parents in our communities? Will we be known by our love?

The Acts of Love

These are the kinds of acts that revealed the love and maturity of the people of God who have received mercy. They took personal responsibility for one another. They paid each other’s debts, they sold vast tracks of land to finance and go with the Apostles into all the world to preach the gospel. They provided for widows within their community with no other means of provision. They adopted orphans and took them along with them on their journeys. They used their trades to provide for the poor and the homeless, All the while recognising those who had already been doing those things as mature in Christ and called them things like, “son of encouragement,” to point to them and say that they embody what it means to be an encourager! No such organic system of safety, legitimacy and provision in the body of Christ exists today, and yet, the sanctification of one another in our hearts and minds as siblings is what reinforces that love and care and attention that we are called to in the Scriptures. Within this reality there is so much overlap of love that even if one person misses an opportunity to disciple someone they are instantly brought up by someone else. This may sound like a fantasy, but consider that we if we were not so consumed by seeking our own kingdoms and our own righteousness we would have the presence of mind, and heart to seek God’s Kingdom and His righteousness as He has described it in His Word. We would be known for our Acts of Love and people would believe that the Father had sent Jesus just as He prayed in the garden.

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