A Church of Beggars
A Begging Church?
When the first 120 disciples gathered in the upper room and started talking weird, terrible power started in the first Christian church. It started spiritually then ramified into the physical, social, and financial realms, among many others. It was an awesome church! Acts says "no one among them was in need," and that "they gave to anyone who had need." The Acts church, in fact, had a big feeding program for the Greeks and Jews. So, how did the church of beggars come about?
What, by the way, is a church of beggars?
Centuries later, and now in 2010, churches in the free world have become known for one thing: solicitations. They send out solicitation letters to ask money for this and that. They ask for pledges and donations and special offerings for almost every need that arises. And worse is that, they ask even non-members and non-believers. They aren't known anymore for powerful and supernatural signs and wonders that help people, rich and poor, and which turned the world upside down. They're now known for begging.
A local pastor here is said to travel abroad at least once a year to solicit funds. He has built a gargantuan church building because of that and he and his church members are mighty proud of it. Today, we see begging as a virtue. Moreover, many are amazed that Pastor Beggar is able to extend his magnificent building higher and wider because of begging. And they highly respect him for that. We respect begging, and the bible says, according to our faith it will be done to us. So it's a faith generation of beggars we're witnessing today, worldwide.
I wonder--what ever happened to Christ's church which he said he'd build himself, and against which the gates of hell shall never prevail? Is it the church we see in the world today? Umm, well I guess so, probably, maybe. Who knows? Hell's gate does seem unable to prevail against it, as long as there are donors and benefactors answering the solicitation letters and pouring money into the church. Jerusalem was like that. It found itself unable to exist without the donor nations on whom she learned to rely on. And God was very angry. What he did was to turn those benefactors against the beneficiary, Judah, and the Israelites could not believe it! Their allies becoming their enemies! In Jeremiah, God called it prostitution and idolatry.
In the Acts church, they never begged. Yet, they never had money problems. Their problem was more on logistics, not budget. How did they finance their budget? They themselves donated their properties (they didn't ask donations from outside sources), and they sold their goods. Yup, they were into marketing. They'd rather die of hunger than beg. They'd rather sell than beg. Paul once said, he who does not work should not eat. Today, most churches would say, "He who does not beg...gets a small church building."
Imagine a church where "they gave to anyone who had need." It says anyone. Even non-believers only had to go to the church and ask and they would receive. No strings attached. The church didn't run after beneficiaries in those days, unlike today when anyone who avails of church feeding programs or medical missions cannot escape being pursued and watched and visited and invited and interrogated and kept under surveillance and lured to keep coming back each Sunday to church, and etc.The Acts church just gave to any who had need, period. Folks just kept coming back on their own accord.
My Jesus also did the same. He healed and fed thousands without asking their addresses or visiting them now and then and pestering them to come visit his church or attend his fellowship or prayer meetings where new comers will be recognized and given gifts--what they proudly call "follow up." The beggars then were the people around them, not the church. Beggars follow up because they want more. Jesus never followed up anyone. It was always follow him or just stay home.
Crowds kept pouring around Jesus like crazy, without Jesus announcing or promoting his concert or conference or crusade. They never sold any ticket. Jesus and his church didn't have any hint of being a church of beggars. They weren't millionaires in the world, but they were in the Spirit. I don't know if you'd see a similar church today, where everything is done simply yet powerfully, without begging. You tired of being a church of beggars? What's the secret here?
The secret is being (now watch this).....a church of beggars. That's right! To avoid being a church of beggars, make sure you are a church of beggars. Being the right kind of beggars in God's sight enables you to be rightful owners of God's Kingdom. Jesus and the Acts church managed well without begging even a cent because they knew the principle of owning God's Kingdom. If you own God's Kingdom, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3.21, "All things are yours! Whether...the world or life..." But there's a condition: This principle works if "You are of Christ." Then no one among you would be in need.
Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit; their's is God's Kingdom." The word poor here can also be translated "beggar." The same Greek word was used to describe the poor beggar, Lazarus, who begged bread scraps from the rich man. Being poor in spirit does not mean we beg for money. It is a picture of desperation for things of the Holy Spirit. How desperate are we, really, for God?
Lazarus begged bread from the rich man even if it meant dogs licking on his sores. Even if it meant a whole lifetime of receiving nothing but bad things, said Abraham. Bad things? Being desperate for God can still mean receiving bad things? I thought you lived happily ever after? Oh yes! James says count it all joy--ALL JOY!--when you face trials and hardships. See? And despite all the dogs licking his sores (imagine the infection and rabis) and bad things, Lazarus was still "longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table."
How desperate are we today for God's fresh bread--fresh and straight from his dinning table? Or are we just content at getting man's theology each Sunday from man's denominational doctrines? Being desperate for God himself means we "beg" God for more of him and his spiritual stuff. We do this, he promises that, "all these (other) things will be added unto you." Then churches won't have to beg anymore. See?
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