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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Note to My Church to Begin 2010

“That all may go well with you …”

I began the HillSong Church elders meeting on January 5 with the following words – “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it is well with your soul.” Originally these words were written by an early Christian who called himself “the elder” and he wrote to a believer named Gaius (3rd John 1:1-2). It’s a simple prayer and it was my heart’s desire for our church leadership. It is also my prayer for all who are a part of HillSong. In 2010, my prayer is that we would experience physical health and spiritual renewal; in other words, I pray that all would go well with us, by the grace of God revealed in Jesus Christ.

We are an economically wealthy people. It would not seem that way to many members who struggle to make it from paycheck to paycheck. And, there are in America churches that have budgets 10x greater than ours. We look at the America around us and we don’t feel rich. But, as far as financial resources go, we are in the top 1% in the world. The Bible has much to say about money, about affluence and poverty. It behooves us to listen.

Simply put, for the prayer to be answered, for things to “go well” with us, for our lives to be blessed, and for us to experience Shalom (peace, wholeness, relational blessedness), we rich Christians needs to pay attention to Christians who are financially poor.

In the Sunday morning sermon last week (1-3-10), I asserted that we who have worldly means are also poor because of sin. We experience spiritual poverty which yields relational brokenness. The two great commands of Jesus are to love God and love people; we rebel against God and hurt people. For all to “go well” we need to move to a place where we trust God enough to surrender our hearts to God completely. We also need to move to a place of relational vulnerability that leaves us open to being hurt but at the same time makes us available for relationships God can use to transform us. This includes meaningful relationships with people in different economic situations.

Remember the prayer - “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you.” I don’t think all can go well with follower of Jesus Christ until he or she has realized his or her own spiritual poverty and has developed deep and lasting brotherhood with believers who live in material poverty.

Does this mean it is the church’s mission to through the power of the Spirit eradicate material poverty in the world? I don’t know that. I am not certain that moving out of spiritual poverty and relational brokenness and into the grace of God will lead to the eradication of all hunger and economical injustice in the world. I do know that when we follow Jesus we are filled with compassion for people.

Compassion means if I see someone in need of prayer, I pray with him. If I see someone truly hurting, I embrace him or her, and I communicate that I love because Jesus first loved me. Compassion means if I see someone hungry, I try to help bring food. Furthermore, to the extent of my ability and availability, I try to change the structures that left that individual hungry in the first place. In other words, beyond giving a man a fish, I try to teach him to fish and give him a fishing pole and a means to get to the water.

Compassion in the context of my own relational brokenness also means I realize that I have much to receive from the man I am teaching to fish. Even as the church helps economically suffering people, the church receives blessings of God from the poorest of the poor. Whatever your economic status and whatever mine is, we have much to give each other and much to gain from one another because we each receive the Holy Spirit according to God’s grace.

As we explore themes of compassion in 2010 and as we at HillSong Church pray that all may go well in our community and in our individual lives, I want to use the newsletter column to examine more closely specific scriptures. I will begin next week in the Old Testament. The prophet Amos deals with the people of God as they commit sins against the poorest of the poor. I will use this column to try to hear what God is saying to us through the words of Amos. I will also explore these themes on my blog - Please check it out.

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