This report from Uganda highlights a vital need for us to experience kingdom reality:
“They seem to be eager to understand a better way of living than what they have known. They embrace the reality that they are people of the Kingdom of God and that they must break from their culture.”
Passive integration with the prevailing culture will keep us financially bound and unable to rightly respond to the Holy Spirit.
“The terms missional and missional church originated in the work of a group of North American practitioners, missiologists, and theorists called the Gospel and Our Culture Network. (GOCN), who came together to try and work out some of the implications of the work of that remarkable missionary thinker Lesslie Newbigin. It was Newbigin who, after returning from a lifetime of work in India as a missionary, saw how pagan Western civilization really was. He began to articulate the view that we need to see the Western world as a mission field, and that we as God’s people in this context needed to adopt a missionary stance in relation to our culture.”
Should we rightly respond to the cultural challenges and posture ourselves in faith as ambassadors representing heaven’s kingdom, and yet not fully embrace issues of stewardship versus ownership, we are likely to fall into the trap of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5). God does not take our possessions from us against our will. “While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control (Verse 4)?”
Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul, neither did anyone say that any of the things they possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. – Acts 4:32.
- We are looking at a multitude, not just a few people. This was Jesus’ megachurch in Jerusalem, the only church in Jerusalem.
- They believed. Really believed—to the point that their entire lives were totally committed, sold out, to another lifestyle, another kingdom, another culture, another economy.
- They were of one heart. They had no New Testament, rarely saw more than a few scrolls. God had written His law in their new hearts of flesh.
- They were of one soul. Their entire consciousness—mind, will and emotions—was focused upon the Christ and His kingdom.
- They had become members of a new faith community via spiritual birth.
- As parts of a new creation, they lived, walked out, their values.
- The equipping ministry went forth unhindered.
- Widows were properly cared for.
- Disciples went everywhere preaching the kingdom with boldness.
- Elders were appointed in every city where the gospel had been received.
The Jerusalem megachurch was very similar in size to our contemporary example used above. But, the similarity ends with the numbers. The church at Jerusalem was neither consumer-friendly nor competitive. Their conversion to Christ was so complete that the authorities (both civil and religious) were threatened by them. They were a new creation and were not hidden under a bushel of religious and cultural chains. They were that city set on a hill (Matthew 5:1) for all to see. They were a testimony to God’s righteousness.
They were known by their love for one another.
Conversions were epidemic.
The gospel, their life message, was profoundly ‘sneezable.’