We are going through our newly adopted values. RCBC Values are deeply held biblical principles that guide who we are, our vision and decisions. These biblical values define who we are at Reedy.
Two weeks ago Andrew looked at our value “We Seek”. Jesus plainly taught us to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33 NIV). We are to seek His kingdom through prayer (Matthew 7:7); We are to seek God’s presence (Psalm 27:8). We are to seek Christ in repentance and for forgiveness (Act 2:38); We are to seek dependence on God (2 Chronicles 7:14); And we are to seek to make God known as Jesus commanded in Acts 1:8.
And so, our first value as a community of believers is We Seek. We are people who seek God for meaning, purpose, direction, help, guidance. Before we apply for a job, we seek God; when we are experience hardships, we seek God; We seek God’s blessings as we go into each new day; we seek his guidance when we are choosing a life partner; after a complicate meeting, we seek God. Throughout life, we seek God.
Last week we looked at our second value – We Hope. The Bible is full of hope. From creation, there was hope. In the midst of slavery in Egypt, to the prosperity of the United Kingdoms, through the suffering of being in exile, to the birth of the Messiah and His resurrection, and the promise of His return, the people of God had hope.
As Christians, we are people of hope. In the midst of good and hard times we are people of hope. Hope is a well sourced, well-grounded, confident assurance that comes through accepting Jesus’ death, resurrection and return.
It is not wishful thinking. It is well sourced, well-grounded, confident assurance that comes through accepting Jesus’ death, resurrection and return.
We hope in God for our children to walk the ways of God.
We hope in God for healing.
We hope in God for a spiritual awakening.
We hope in God for a fresh new start.
We hope in God to help us overcome our financial burdens.
We hope in God that our world leaders will just calm down.
We hope in God for our farmers to receive favouarable weather conditions.
We hope in God that He will build His church.
We hope in God for Christ’s return.
So, we are people who seek God and hope in God. We are also people who care.
Caring ranked high in our survey, as it should because as Christians we are people who ought to be about caring.
Let me share two reasons why.
First, Jesus modeled care. Throughout His ministry He cared for others. The woman at the well in John 4, lived an adulterous life. And yet Jesus showed care by crossing cultural barriers as this woman was a Samaritan and Jesus a Jew and Jews didn’t mix with Samaritans, thinking they were an impure race. Jesus cared enough by breaking down these man-made walls and spoke life into her.
What about the time when thousands of people were following Jesus on the shore while He and the disciples were in a boat. His disciples wanted the crowd to go away as night was descending and people were becoming hungry. Matthew said in chapter 14 of his gospel, that Jesus had compassion on them all and so with the little food that the disciples had, Jesus performed a miracle and therefore was able to feed the thousands. Jesus cared for even their daily needs.
Zacchaeus was the local Jericho tax man and very wealthy. Something though was missing in his life. And so, when Jesus entered the city and news spread about Him, Zacchaeus wanted to see this Jesus and so he climbed up a tree. Jesus knowing his needs went up to Zacchaeus and asked him to come down for he wanted to stay at his house. Can you imagine as Zacchaeus and Jesus walked down the road together, Zacchaeus felt extra taller for he was walking with Jesus? But the caring didn’t stop there. When Jesus was eating with Zacchaeus, Jesus said to him in front of his other guests that Zacchaeus was a child of Abraham. Now Zacchaeus would had been called many hurtful names over the years but never a child of Abraham. Jesus cared.
Jesus showed care to the people with disabilities by healing them; He showed care by sharing words of comfort to his disciples about heaven in John 14; He showed care when Jesus hugged children even though the disciples tried to stop that. Jesus cared. Not only did He modeled caring, but He also taught about caring such as the parable of the Sheep and the Goats in Matthew 25:31–46 where whenever we care for others we are showing care for Him. The parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 is all about caring for the vulnerable in our community. Jesus cared.
Second, we ought to be caring because that’s our history of who we are and what we value.
The Early Church modeled care. We know from passages like Acts 4 how, and in the words of Luke, “that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need” (Acts 4:34-35 NIV).
It is widely accepted that the first deacons were established to not talk about building programs but about caring for the Hebrew-speaking widows. And so, seven men were selected to oversee the daily distribution of food (Acts 6:1-6).
It seems that 100 years later, well after the apostles had died, that this practicing of caring continued in the church. Justin Martyr was a Christian apologist who defended particularly Christian morality. He wrote this: “We who used to value the acquisition of wealth and possessions more than anything else now bring what we have into a common fund and share it with anyone who needs it. We used to hate and destroy one another and refused to associate with people of another race or country. Now, because of Christ, we live together with such people and pray for our enemies.”
When a devastating plague swept across the ancient world in the third century, Christians were the only ones who cared for the sick, which they did at the risk of contracting the plague themselves. Meanwhile, pagans were throwing infected members of their own families into the streets even before they died, in order to protect themselves from the disease.
The love of the early Christians wasn't limited simply to their fellow believers. Christians also lovingly helped non-believers: the poor, the orphans, the elderly, the sick, the shipwrecked.
For centuries, Christians have been founding hospitals. In 1099, the Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem had added the care of the sick to their provision of help for pilgrims. Look at the late Mother Teresa who worked in the slums of Calcutta, to bring hope, care, and healing to the poorest in the world.
Today, around the world, governments are indebted to Christian Churches who have established hospitals and hostels for the aged, the sick, and orphaned Without these Christian institutions, our governments would be in strife.
Christians also influenced cultures with the idea of human dignity. Both Aristotle and Plato held the position that most humans are suitable only for slavery - that we are creatures unworthy of freedom. The Greeks used dignity for the few, rather than for all human beings. But followers of Jesus have insisted over the years that every single person is loved by God, made in His image, and destined for everlasting friendship and fellowship with Him.
This concept of human dignity was a crucial step in the modern age, leading directly to the first declaration of human rights in history. The Spanish missionaries argued that the Indians they encountered in the New World were people of full human dignity, not some inferior species. They maintained that it was sinful before God to offend the dignity of the Indians, as their colleagues were obviously doing. They went to the Spanish Court urging the monarch to rule accordingly. The case was argued successfully by theologians that it was sinful that Indians were oppressed. Today, outside the United Nations building in New York stands a statue of one of the greatest of these theologians, Francesco de Vitoria (1486-1546), the founder of international law.
Michael Novak, a Jewett scholar in religion, philosophy and public policy has written: “Without the Christian foundations laid for us in the high Middle Ages and again in the sixteenth century our economic and political life together would not only be far poorer, but far more brutal as well”.
And so, we care. We care because our Lord and Saviour Jesus modeled it and taught it, and because throughout the history of the church, caring for others was a value that was highly practiced.
At Reedy, we have identified three areas where we care.
1. We Care For Each Other
First, we care for each other. The Apostle Paul told the churches of Galatia that they are to care for one another. In Galatians 6:2 Paul tells them: “Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2 NIV). The law of Christ is love one another. We love one another by carrying or bearing with one another’s burdens.
Paul is talking about interrelatedness and interdependence, a principle that is laced throughout Paul's epistles. 1 Corinthians 12:26 says, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (1 Corinthians 12:26 ESV). Romans 15:1, “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves” (Romans 15:1 NIV). The new life into which we have been born through Christ is a shared life.
The Greek word used to describe the shared life of the people of God was koinonia. Our best word for it in English is “fellowship”, but this is far too limited to embrace the meaning of the Greek. Koinonia means sharing, all kinds of sharing: sharing in friendship (Act 2:42), being partners in the gospel (Philippians 1:5), sharing material possessions (2 Corinthians 8:4), having fellowship in Christ (1Corinthians 1:9), and sharing life together in the Spirit (2 Corinthians 13:14). Above all, koinonia is fellowship with God (1 John 1:3).
In koinonia we are bound to each other, to Christ, and to God. Our life is a shared life, we bear one another's burdens.
2. We Care For Our Community
Second, we care for our community, particularly for the vulnerable. Micah spoke truth to a generation that was self-absorb. I think God was speaking through Micah to us today. He said, “And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8 NIV). We need to care by acting justly for the vulnerable. This is what the Lord requires of us.
It’s been two months since the incredible rescue of the 11-boys from the deep underground caves. The world’s media descended on those little unknown caves and millions were praying from their safe rescue from those dark caves. A miracle happened, and those boys were saved. We all rejoiced.
Two months later, the media have packed up, and the world has moved on. And yet not far away from those caves are hundreds of other young boys and girls who are also trapped. They suffer in the darkness of sexual slavery. Young children who each night are used for sex. They are trapped. The media didn’t bother reporting about these suffering children.
On the Gold Coast there are only 22 beds available for victims of domestic violence. Somehow, I think there would be far more victims this week than 22. Where do they go for crisis accommodation?
As a church, we can’t do everything, but we can do some things. We do these Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes because we care. You students and staff are giving up your holidays because you care for poor kids. Dennis and his team shop for food and make hampers every week because they care for those in our community who are doing it tough. Those who knit booties for new borns; those who go into prisons; those who mentor kids at Clover Hill do so because you care; those in our TEAR Group meet because you care.
There is a growing vision developing for the vulnerable in our community and Karyn last Monday night share with 35 of our leaders what this could be like.
We care by acting justly, loving mercy and walking humbly before our God because this is what He requires.
3. We Care For The World
Third, we care for the world. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV). God cared for us that He sent His Son Jesus. Now we are to care for the world with the message of God’s love.
To those who lead our kids and youth ministries and those who teach about God in the schools, you do so because you care. You care enough about their eternal destiny. Our supported missionaries and chaplains do what they do because they care for the lost and vulnerable.
As Christians and together as a church we care. We care because Jesus modeled and taught it. We care because it was a value that the church has practiced throughout its history.
As Christians and together as a church we care for one another, for the community and the world.
I must say that caring is hard. It’s hard because you have to intentionally reach out to some which takes away from your time. Caring can be emotionally draining. Some needs just sap your energy. Care can be discouraging as we all have expectations on how caring should happen and when these expectations aren’t met, people can be disheartened.
Besides music, probably the area that many feel let down by the church in general would be the lack or the perceived lack of care shown.
Around us are some very dynamic churches who are known for their mazing worship services. God bless them. I would like Reedy to be known by our caring in the name of Jesus.
A couple of years ago McCriddle did a survey of hundreds of non-Christian Aussies. They indicated that they would be interested in Christianity if they knew that Christians showed non-judgmental authentic care for them and their family. It kinda reminds of Jesus’ words: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35 NIV).
As a church, we care. It’s a principle that we are learning to be and do. Jesus has modeled to us how. Let’s care for one another, our community, and the world.