Big Idea: An essential aspect of community is responding, with open, glad and generous hearts, to real human need. The early church was marked by God’s response to human suffering. Caring community should be expressed in families, locally, regionally and globally.
I. Fellowship with God calls us to respond to needs with an open heart.
A. We are called to compassionate engagement with human need because that is what God does. (Matthew 9:36)
B. We are called to open our hearts to need.
C. Dominican Republic report
II. Does God’s word command poverty (or the liquidation of all property)?
A. Examples in Acts:
Acts 2:44-47; Acts 4:32-35 – “to any who had need,” “with glad and generous hearts.”
Acts 6:1 – However, the early church didn’t always get it right.
B. What does God ask of us with of us with regard to giving?
4. From the heart
C. Is this command universal? No.
A. What does this look like locally?
B. What does this look like globally?
1. Disaster relief and refugee relief
2. Persecuted church
3. Caring for the sick, medical missions
4. Justice / slavery – caring for the enslaved and oppressed
5. Widows and orphans
6. Feeding the poor
1) How have you heard the early church life talked about? Is this an ideal to strive for, or a temporary situation which quickly disappeared? What does “generous” mean to you? Can you put a giving percentage on generosity? Is the Evangelical community generously engaging in the needs of those around us?
2) In your spiritually formative years, what was the dominant emphasis? Was it to “protect the truth” or was it to “live out the gospel (and, if necessary, speak)”? Can you think of a time when you responded seriously to a need? What happened in your heart? Can you share that story?
3) Do you make funding or giving decisions based on your emotional connection to a cause? What role should emotions play? Should we fund anything that moves our heart strings? Is it possible that only following our emotions will lead us to fund ministries or groups that actually aren’t very effective?
4) Have you ever been on a short-term missions trip? IF you haven’t or won’t, what is the reason? If you have, what has God done through that? How engaged are you with what God is doing globally?
5) What part of the Dominican Republic report impacted you the most?
6) Of the six areas mentioned, which are you most drawn toward (disaster relief, care for widows and orphans, feeding the poor, justice /slavery, the persecuted church, or caring for the sick)? Which of these area have you maybe never looked into? Are you interested in championing one of these areas?
7) How does passion for Christ fit together with compassion for people? Does proclamation seem to fit with these six things? What do you think about this part of the EFCA’s statement of faith? How do you love God supremely and others sacrificially?
EFCA Statement of Faith, Item #8:
We believe that God's justifying grace must not be separated from His sanctifying power and purpose. God commands us to love Him supremely and others sacrificially, and to live out our faith with care for one another, compassion toward the poor and justice for the oppressed. With God’s Word, the Spirit’s power, and fervent prayer in Christ’s name, we are to combat the spiritual forces of evil. In obedience to Christ’s commission, we are to make disciples among all people, always bearing witness to the gospel in word and deed.