Gospel Exploration Blog

The way of generosity

posted Jul 23, 2017, 6:09 PM by Luke Williams

Its fair to say that Jesus was the most generous person who ever lived. Not only did he give up his life for those he loved, we Christians believe that he gave up privilege, status and power as the second person of the trinity to come and live among humanity where he would be treated like the lowest of the low. In order to reach people no one was reaching, he had to do things no one was doing, and that involved sacrifice. One of the ways he lived was to do everything with generosity. 

In fact, a generous life is arguably the way of Jesus. If every aspect of our lives were marked with generosity, we would be a lot closer to living the way Jesus lived. He was generous with his 'personal space', allowing his friends and strangers to be around him for long periods of time when he probably wanted a break. He was generous with his knowledge, teaching from the scriptures regularly in the temple when he had no obligation to do so. He was generosity with his authority and power from God, healing those who asked with faith, even if it risked his safety and security. See every time he showed someone unconditional love and generosity, he risked offending agitating those who would eventually killed him. In being generous, he risked his life. And that's truly generous. 

Jesus also commended generosity and criticised those who lacked generosity. My reading this morning was about the poor widow and her offering at the temple. Jesus sits down near the offering box (probably much like the one we have at The Billabong) simply to watch people give their money. (This is why I give by direct debit - so Jesus can't see. Oh wait...) Some rich people give large amounts and then a widow drops two small coins - everything she had to live on. Jesus pulls his friends aside and says "See that - that's generosity! Its easy to give 'big' when its just a fraction of your huge surplus, but she gave more than the rich - everything!" (my paraphrase).

I happen to know that there's a young person in our congregation who gives a regular 'tithe' of $1.50. I won't say who he or she is, but I suspect they are one of the biggest financial givers in the whole of The Billabong. At least by Jesus standards he/she is, and I reckon his standards are the ones we should live by! Funnily enough, this person and many others I know who give generously from their pockets also give generously with their time and their talents. Generosity breeds generosity.

The opposite is also true according to Jesus. In the previous verses, Jesus criticises those with position and privilege for going about their business in a way that benefits them. Shortly after he points out that their 'large' donation is also greedy.

Do you want to become more generous? Take a first step. Does giving the first 10% of your income (tithing) scare you? Consider what God might be able to do with your 90% in comparison to what you can do with you 95% or 100%. Then, take a leap of faith. Is God challenging you to take unpaid leave to go on a mission trip seem, but you know that means selling your golf clubs? Talk it through with a friends, at least. Do you desire to serve in Christian community but know it would mean giving up your video game time? Or your overtime? Or worse, your 'me time'? Whatever the challenge God is putting on your heart - the rich and stingy were forever known for their lack of generosity. The woman who gave 'a little', but in fact gave everything will forever be known as one who reflected the heart of God and the way of Jesus. How would you rather be remembered?

The Way(s) of Jesus

posted Jul 22, 2017, 11:20 PM by Luke Williams   [ updated Jul 23, 2017, 12:14 AM ]

One of the most valuable things about the accounts of Jesus life (the gospels) is the glimpse we are given into the way Jesus lived his life. The gospels are indeed records of his speeches and verbal interactions with people and the miracles he did as a taste of God's Kingdom. But the gospels also paint a picture of the way he went about his days, his weeks and seasonal period. They show us the kind of people he chose to spend time with. The places he went and why he went there. Even the mindset behind why he lived the way he lived.
Its a little harder to observe the way of life Jesus lived when reading the gospels, especially in comparison to the miracles he did, the stories he told, and instructions he gave. However if we look more closely for these patterns, rhythms, 'ways of life' when reading the gospels, its all there. If we only read short chunks - a story here, a parable there - we'll miss it. But read through a whole gospel (or even 3 - 4 chapters) in sequence, and you begin to see how this incredible man lived.

At our church, we talk about the Words, Works and Ways of Jesus. His words (or message) are important, because we as his followers are to take this message and proclaim it in a way that makes sense in this day and age. His works (or miracles) are also important. Whether its supernatural works the Holy Spirit does through us as we have faith to believe he can and will, or the 'little miracles' through serving, love, caring for others - we carry on the works of Jesus. But those alone are not enough. His ways were a method we must take note of.

This blog is about exploring the gospels, because in them are not just 'gospel' (good news) for us but our best example of how to live a life that honours God. In future posts we'll explore a number of these 'ways of life' that Jesus modelled, and what it might look like to build them into the culture of our life. But don't hesitate to also read jump over to the book of Acts from time to time, because you will notice that the ways of Jesus did not stop with him. Paul and the other leaders continued the same rhythms, patterns, approach to people as Jesus did. Their method of bringing God's Kingdom to earth was the same as Jesus'.

So what were these ways? We'll begin to look at some of them one by one in this blog. But I encourage you to read the gospels for yourself and discover the ways of Jesus. What do you notice about the way he goes about his life that provides him with God opportunities? Where does his lifestyle differ to yours? What subtle hints to the gospels give about the method he had for showing people his Father's love?

Lets explore together the words, the works but most of all the life transforming ways of Jesus.

Gospel Exploration

posted May 15, 2017, 6:51 PM by Luke Williams   [ updated Jul 22, 2017, 10:55 PM ]

Christianity has for almost 2000 years been driven by its core sacred texts, a collection of 66 books of various genres called The Bible. At the 'theological centre' of The Bible is four accounts of Jesus life, called "the gospels". Without the gospels, literally the good news's, the Bible would mean something completely different to us. Jesus frames and guides our faith, because our faith is indeed not driven by the written word, but by him, the living word, the one who fully reveals God to us.

Even still, we rely on written accounts of this living person to learn how to live as children of God. No wonder Christianity is expressed in thousands of different ways across the world. We have the great task of studying these accounts which frame the rest of the sacred scriptures, and learning together to 'follow Jesus' in this day and age.

The gospels present us with a fascinating account of an amazing man who we claim is not dead, but alive. So we follow not just the man who lived 2000 years ago, but the living God incarnate, who now dwells within the believer each and every day. Yet it is the way he lived as the man Jesus of Nazareth that is our prime example to follow and model our lives after.

So, what can we learn from these 'good news' accounts that we've missed or forgotten? What do the good news's teach us about how we follow the living Jesus now, today. That... is worth exploring.

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