Here in Rock Hall, we have tried to stay focused on developing as followers of Jesus as we Gathering to worship; Growing in relationships; and Going to serve.
Growing in our relationships includes growing in our relationship with Jesus. This leads us to develop his character in our lives and understand his calling on our lives. This GROWING happens as we learn more about him and put it into practice.
This is the way that our experience of God's power at work in us, it doesn't stop with us, it makes a difference in the world around us.
This series of talks from City Changers, a ministry who's purpose is to help disciples live out their calling as disciples in such a way that their community is changed. That's our desire here in Rock Hall.
Consider this from Matt 5: 13-16 in the Message paraphrase of the Bible
“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage. “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.
There is something glorious about discovering the selfless life. Christians are called to live beyond themselves, to have someone other than themselves as the center of their affections and actions. It is only when we embrace a posture of selflessness, of generosity, that we bring the redemptive nature of the Kingdom to our homes, churches, communities and cities. We can extend God’s grace to a broken world only when we choose a sacrificial life. This is simply choosing to live as Jesus did. He lived generously, in all He thought and did.
2 Corinthians 8:9, AMP
For you are becoming progressively acquainted with and recognizing more strongly and clearly the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ (His kindness, His gracious generosity, His undeserved favor and spiritual blessing), [in] that though He was [so very] rich, yet for your sakes He became [so very] poor, in order that by His poverty you might become enriched (abundantly supplied).
Notice the phrase “His gracious generosity”? Generosity spreads an amazing ripple effect out into the world. When we are generous, it touches our families and our community and our workplace. Its effects are immeasurable. Jesus asks us to live generously. The Gospels show Jesus challenging some folks to make drastic changes in their lives or to give away all they had. To the confusion of the Disciples, Jesus challenged a rich man to sell everything he had and give it to the poor (Matthew 19:21). After Jesus’s Resurrection and return to heaven, the early church in Jerusalem decided to generously share what they each had so that no one would be without. The Bible even says they “had everything in common.” Sometimes we will be challenged to make great sacrifices for the sake of the Kingdom. But the generosity consists of small, everyday deeds of love, compassion, and blessing. When benefitting others in our community becomes part of our lifestyle, and when we’re open to the generous life, we’re beginning to transform our culture.
In Doxa Deo we ask people to share their stories with us so that we can publicly celebrate them, because what you celebrate you will replicate. Consistent small random act of kindness creates a culture of generosity in a community. Can you imagine what would happen if Christians became known for their unquenchable generosity?
The Generosity Paradigm
There are two kinds of people on the Earth: givers and takers.
At its core, being a Christ-follower means you go from being a taker to being a giver. In all the relationships we navigate in life, our lives need to be marked by giving, not getting. This is what Christ modeled for us.
Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Ephesians 5:25, MSG
There is hardly any element of Jesus’s life, including the deeds He did and the stories He told, that does not illustrate some facet of generosity. Jesus was constantly showing the blessing of living in a spacious, generous way.
“And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35b
The Gospels depict Jesus as consistently giving—many times to those who could not reciprocate the blessing. He gave freely of His time to children, to the marginalized, and to women, who were greatly devalued in that era. He kept company with Samaritans, and then told of their generosity, to challenge the status quo. He gave dignity to those who were rejected by the establishment of the day: the lepers, the blind, and the lame.
Jesus identified four attitudes in people: two kinds of takers and two kinds of givers.
Takers – Wolves & Goats vs Givers – Sheep & Lambs
Wolves – being greedy and materialistically driven,
Goats – being self-centered
Sheep – becoming a steward of what God has entrusted to you,
Lambs – becoming a fully generous person.
Being a good steward is admirable. We are all stewards or managers of those things entrusted to us, inherited by us, and earned by us. We are stewards of our wealth, our possessions, our families, our time, our gifts and talents, our physical bodies, our souls, and our spiritual journeys. But we should aim for a deep, inward transformation from mere stewards to spontaneous, generous givers.
“God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7b).
Generosity is beyond stewardship, which is taking a posture of responsible earning, managing, and giving. Generosity is more organic, more life-giving, and less legalistic and formal than stewardship. Generosity is evaluated by the amount of cheerfulness behind it. Giving grudgingly or out of obligation is not generosity. To become generous, you must give. Generosity grows through the action of sharing and giving away.
There is something glorious about finally understanding the generosity paradigm. It challenges the deepest presuppositions driving our culture, which is full of wolves and goats. And yet the highest joy comes to sheep and lambs. Could we become the generation in which Christians become known as givers? Could we be the community that practices the art of serving and blessing the people around us? If we could, it might well prove to be more profound than every other program and strategy we have ever used in our efforts to transform our communities.