5 October 2014 by Jason Law CM –
The essence of Christianity is largely, if not primarily, one of reconciliation and redemption. Reconciliation is facilitated through relationships and redemption is only possible if a meaningful and intentional relationship exists. And out of that, the fruit of the Spirit comes, including peace and joy.
On the 21st of September 2014, Reverend Fred David shared about the Christian’s understanding of reconciliation. Reverend David is the fatherly shepherd of Peace Community Anglican Church, Bukit Jalil, a house of God that takes its identity in establishing God’s peace in every heart and every home.
The church’s mission towards this is by building a community that is vibrant in worship, strong in the Word, able to minister in love and care through the anointing of the Spirit, and to engage in evangelism and make disciples of Jesus Christ.
The Complaining Spirit and the Basics of Revival
Reverend David started his message by employing the context from the early Church in Acts 6:1-7. He shared that in the early days, the Church grew by leaps and bounds. Christians were unified and there were no denomination-mindset to hinder them; they were all one church – the Church of Christ. But while there was no divide, the Early Christians were not without problems of their own.
‘At that time, people from various ethnicities and groups were coming into the Church. And that was where the difficulties started coming in. There was a conflict between the Hellenistic and Hebraic Jews and some of them started to complain. We don’t have to go to a theological school to learn to complain. We don’t have to earn a Masters, but we can still have a First-class Honours in Complaint.
‘We pick up this complaining so easily, and this is what is happening in churches. It is not surprising to find that when God moves, when we begin to see God’s work growing, you also know that satan must work harder. The complains will lead to dissension, it will lead to division and to distrust within the community,’ Reverend David communicated.
‘It is in this sense that I am thinking about this word of reconciliation. If there isn’t reconciliation in the hearts of each one of us, how can God bring us revival? One of the basics of revival is when a person turns to God, and for the church to turn to God. If there is no sense of peace for men to come together before God and with one another, how is God going to bring revival and renewal to the Church?’
Essentials Must Never Be Neglected
There are certain essentials of our faith that must never be neglected, Reverend David conveyed. One of the areas is in ministry to the less advantaged. The Early Church took up, for instance, the ministry to widows. In their culture, when a woman marries, she was considered as having a family of her own, and when her husband dies, she was not supposed to go back to her father’s house anymore. Who was to take care of them? ‘It is the Church who must take up these ministries, to look after the poor and defenseless among us, so that we will be able to remain strong as a people of God’ Reverend David imparted.
Another area is in the ministry of deacons. In the early days, being a deacon meant being in service to the Church. The 7 men that were elected as deacons were chosen by the Early Church as a whole. They had integrity, they could be entrusted to be empowered and released for their work, and they were men that were filled with the Spirit and Wisdom of God. It was not about the hierarchy. Reverend David stressed that today the Church must not lose its focus, or else we will lose our impact.
Above all, the Church must not lose the essentiality of the ministry of the Word. The Church must both teach and preach the Word, and the preaching of the Word must pierce the hearts of men and bring conversion. As One Body, the Church must be serious about prayer.
Empowering of Members
Together, the ministries mentioned above speak about the Service Mindset. We ought to be thankful to God for our ministry, and there is a need for priority, focus, and intention. In the early days, there was a culture of accountability. Leaders were elected by the Church, not appointed by a single man. The 7 deacons were known by the whole community for the quality of their life, and among them was Stephen, the first Christian martyr.
The early church empowered its members through consensus. Stephen and the other deacons were accepted in one accord, was consecrated by the Spirit, and commissioned by the Church. At the end of the day, the light of Christ matters more than any academic qualifications.
The Church must take the initiative, and not merely the leaders. It was the Church that laid hands on the deacons, signifying their trust in God. It was also the Church that empowered them, and in trust the deacons were sent out. Every person in the Kingdom of God has been entrusted with some role, no matter how small, and the Church is given the strength of God when its members live up to their roles and play their parts as a single body.
Encouragement in Ministry
Reverend David also shared that one of the things that stood out about the early church was their culture of fellowship. As a result of the encouragement for and in ministry, God’s Word was spread, a remarkable growth was seen in the Church, and a good number of new believers became obedient.
Healthy church growth is not just a numerical factor but also possess quality in the growth. Discipleship as followers of Christ are emphasized more than the denomination. The secret to the seed of multiplication is the building and strengthening of every member of the Church. Reverend David encouraged with the observation that in today’s survey of the countries with the fastest growing churches, there are some surprises, with some countries included that we have never thought it possible for the Word of God to break through.
This breakthrough was made possible through the outreach to communities, done by people out of a heart of ministry, and who trusted in the power of God. There is no end where we can minister to the community, Reverend David communicated. As Christians, we must reconcile with each other and be as one body.
Besides reconciling with others, we must reconcile with ourselves that the places where God has placed us is where God has called us to. Be confident and assured of our place with God, and looking at the Church, two questions we should ask ourselves are ‘What is the Church for?’ and ‘Why has God placed churches in the places where they are?’
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NOTE : The deacons, of which Stephen was one, were appointed as ministers in the Church, during a time of impending threat of dissension. Among the complaints, particularly by the Hellenistic Jews, were the neglect of the ministry to the widows among them (Acts 6:1). The Word of God increased and the Church grew after this reconciliation, and many people became disciples and priests unto the faith (Acts 6:7).