Community Meals in December
What are we doing? - In December we are meeting on two Saturday evenings, here in this building. We are inviting people in this community to have a meal with us and to have family pictures taken. We are creating a venue through which we as a group can meet people, befriend people, expose them to who we are and hopefully, then or at some point, to Jesus.
Why are we doing this? - I would like to answer this, in part, by talking about who we should be as those who are trusting Jesus.
God is looking to make all things new, to reclaim all things for his glory. He does this by turning on lights where there is darkness. In his kindness he shows himself to those in need and rescues them. He gives new life, new hearts, new hope, new priorities, new vision, new purpose - Jesus creates new people. These new people who have new lives and new hearts, and new purpose are then to live who they have become and so point others to the One who gives life. God is looking to introduce himself through our new lives and claim others for Jesus as we share the gospel with them. When Christians own a business, that business should have a unique Christ-exalting ethos that shows itself and points to Jesus. Where there is a Christian family there should be a light in the neighborhood. Jesus should be seen in the relationships, Jesus should be seen in the hospitality, Jesus should be seen in the conversation, Jesus should be seen in the joy, and Jesus should be seen in the tears - all things point to Jesus. Where there is a Christian employee, there should be a light in the workplace that is hard working and pointing to Jesus. Where there is a fellowship like Community Bible Church there should be a light in the city pointing to Jesus, an alternative example of community, an alternative example of what it means to live in unity, an alternative example of how people can care for each other - all pointing to Jesus. We should be a testimony for Jesus in our actions, our words, and in our message - the gospel.
The person saved by Jesus should be someone who is moving toward being the person Jesus was. Jesus seemed to have harmonious unity in the “compartments” of life - he didn‘t seem to struggle with motives and the “compartments“ of life the way we do. Everything he did, every thought he had, every event in his life served the same purpose - the glory of God. Everything about him was moving in the same direction. Under stress he thought as God’s person would think. When he saw the horrendous impact of sin, he felt and acted as God’s person would feel and act. When he cared for people he did so because he cared for people, AND he was looking to confront the power of sin (the fight for justice), AND he was looking to show himself as the Messiah - it all came together. He lived and breathed and walked and talked as the perfect human would. He oozed loving compassion AND resolute hatred of sin AND the desire to please God by dying for those who are undeserving.
Jesus did not simply declare a message of hope - he lived a message that showed hope. People followed him and believed in him not only because of his words but because his life established the truth of his words.
So, why are we doing this? I would say there are many reason:
- We want need to live as we should in as many ways as possible
- We need to use our varied gifts in a unified way that not only serves this fellowship but also in a way that reaches out
- We can learn from each other as we connect with those outside the fellowship
- We need to share the gospel
One segment of Winona we would like to see here is those that are in financial need, those who can’t afford family pictures, those who are unemployed, those who need help. People like this were important to the apostles and important to Jesus. There’s an interesting story in Galatians 2:1-10 where Paul goes to Jerusalem to discuss his gentile-ministry with the apostles - this is a new thing. After he does this the apostles approve him and ask only one other thing - remember the poor. And Paul says this is the very thing he was eager to do. The apostles were united in this request, it was important enough to mention as part of Paul’s mission, and Paul was eager to do it.
But where did this passion and this priority come from? For Paul I think we should say it flowed out of the heart that the gospel created. A forgiven heart is a compassionate heart. But for the original twelve apostles, they have not only the new heart of compassion, but also memories of the way Jesus himself lived.
• The vision of the judgment in Matthew 25 (35–36) where Jesus says, “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.”
• Zachaeus gives half of his possessions to the poor, and Jesus says, “Today salvation has come to this house” (Luke 19:9). The evidence of salvation is practical, financial compassion for the poor.
• Jesus’ words to the man who invited him to a feast, “When you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just” (Luke 14:13–14).
• And inauguration of Jesus’ ministry in Luke 4:18, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.”
The point is: the apostles were agreed on the importance of ministry to the poor because it flows from the center of the gospel—the cross—and because Jesus lived it out. The apostles were eager to bless the poor. It was part of their foundational ministry. I assume therefore it should be a crucial commitment in the church today—in missions and in the ongoing ministry of the church.
And it isn’t just the Christian poor. Galatians 6:10 says, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Yes, take care of your own. But the heart of Christ does not neglect unbelievers. Paul said in Romans 12:20, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.” Christians who have the heart of Christ and who follow in the paths of the apostles remember the poor to do as much good for them as we can.
Psalm 67:1-2 (NIV)
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, 2 that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.
Psalm 98:1-3 (NIV)
1 Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. 2 The Lord has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations. 3 He has remembered his love and his faithfulness to the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
Some would say that the ONLY reason Jesus cared for people was so that they, in turn, would see him as the Messiah - he didn’t actually care about their hunger or their pain (injustice). These are dangerous people. To them, if Jesus was walking down an ally alone (no one with him), and he saw a drunk passed out on the pavement struggling to breath because he was laying in his vomit, Jesus wouldn’t help him because he can’t share the message of God‘s love. You may think this is an absurd way to think but I’ve experienced this logic. On the other hand, if you feed the poor and give no thought to their greatest need - you are dangerous too.
How should we do this:
- IN FAITH - giving, serving
- IN PRAYER
- WITH EXPECTATION
Ooze Jesus in everything you do
 Piper, John: Sermons from John Piper (2000-2007). Minneapolis : Desiring God, 2007