Is the Church a caring community? – Episcopal Cafe


from Rev. N. Earnesta, Sri Lanka

Scripture Readings: Acts 4: 32-35; Matthew 25: 31-46. (NIV).

When the poor are broken under more than they can handle

And the smell of innocent blood spreads through the air

When the truth consists only of what the media shares

And those oppressed victims are silent out of fear

When I am the focus of everything we care about

When fears and anxieties are common to share

When charity is limited to what we can save

A cry comes from the heart: “Is there anyone who cares?”

The Church is called to accomplish many things, but if she does not care for her people, she does not act like the Church of Jesus Christ. As the body of Christ, the Church and its members must care for one another. This does not mean that the Church should neglect needs outside the body. The church should extend the love of Christ to all people, but it ceases to function as a church if it does not care for its own.

The early church is described in Acts 4: 32-35 as follows:

32 All believers were one heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their property was theirs, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to bear witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace worked so powerfully in all of them 34 that there were no needy among them. Because from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them brought in money from the sale 35 and put it at the feet of the apostles, and distributed it to everyone who needed it.

These verses describe a community of people who cared for each other out of sincere love and care.

Looking at the Church as a caring community, we can look at it from different angles and perspectives. The simplest of these comes from the dictionary definition of the word care.

Caring is usually defined as ‘Showing kindness and caring to others’ or ‘Feeling or showing care or kindness to others’.

Caring, however, means showing compassion for others. The core of care is the feeling or expression of care and compassion for others. Therefore, the intention is to focus on others. How then did we come to have slogans like, “I love myself, myself and me?” Why in this egocentric world do we even need to take care of others?

The answer to this question is found in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” God could not restrain Himself and gave His Son for our redemption out of great care for all of us.

In Ephesians 2:13, Paul emphasizes to the Church, “And now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have come near the blood of Christ.

We cared because we were taken care of.

Through Scripture we are constantly reminded that we are people of God who have received and experienced God’s care. Jesus says in John 13:34, “I give you a new commandment. You love each other. As I loved you, so you must love one another. ”

These words of Jesus do not imply that love for the other is optional or just a suggestion.

John 13:34 does not say, “If you want, you can love and take care of each other” or “If you have time, you can take care of each other.” This is the commandment: Love one another. God has called us to be His people, people who love and care for one another. It is meant to be a fundamental component of what we should be as a church because our Lord and Master, whom we serve, commanded and instructed us to love one another.

Paul says something similar in Galatians 6: 2, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ as disciples of Jesus as followers of Christ.” We need to provide practical relevance and reflection for ourselves to examine and evaluate where we stand as a church and as a people of God.

We are commanded to love and care for each other.

So how do you develop a caring and compassionate heart? Paul presents a wonderful description of this loving concern in Colossians 3:12 – 15, which says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and beloved,”

Many will read this section and admire and rejoice in the privileges and beauties available to God’s people who are holy and passionately loved. However, it follows, “Train in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. An invitation to show compassion, kindness, humility, tenderness and patience in everything we do. But look at the way Paul says – “Dress” in these values. In other words, your life must be enveloped in these characteristics. That’s the way to live with everyone and wherever, constantly. Compassion, humility, gentleness and patience should be instilled in the life of everyone who follows Jesus.

When we talk about compassion, we have limited ways to understand what compassion is. For example, consider showing affection to someone who is in trouble or has problems or is sad about that person. One of my mentors, Dr. Ivor Poobalan once said: “Compassion is when you feel someone else’s pain in your heart.” True compassion requires us to identify and empathize with the needs or sufferings of others. As already mentioned, God’s love for His lost children was so great that Jesus stepped into our human condition leaving behind the glory of heaven.

Paul continues in verse 13, “bear with one another and forgive one another. If any of you have a grudge against someone, forgive them as the Lord forgives you. ” This is key to our understanding of compassion and care. One way to show our concern for one another is to endure and forgive one another. As broken people who will always have challenges, difficulties, conflicts and problems, the question is not whether we can remove them from our community, but the question of how to effectively deal with these difficulties? Christ was willing to bear the sins of mankind and secure redemption from the cross. As His people, we must learn to endure one another.

Accepting each other and being willing to forgive is a key part of the Christian daily walk with the Lord. Verse 14 continues with, “And through all these virtues put on love, which unites them all in perfect unity.” So, if we want to participate in caring, we must weave everything into one thread of love, and the result will be the beauty of the unity of God’s people.

We are sinful like everyone else, but we are more aware of that. We are aware of the depth of our sins and the incredible compassion, grace, and forgiveness we have received through Jesus Christ. We should forgive those who have been forgiven the most. Those who are most loved should be the most loved – that is part of our Christian purpose.

Allow the peace of Christ to prevail in your hearts, because as members of one body you are called to peace and gratitude. We often do not care for each other as Christians because we are not at peace with each other. Show each other love and care, and the peace of Christ will dwell in our hearts and continue to repair and renew those things, heal and help us to endure with one another, and forgive one another.

Finally, when we are truly united, we will take care of each other in measurable ways and support each other physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

So, let’s ask ourselves, what is the biggest obstacle? What prevents the Church from caring for one another’s needs and witnessing the growth of the Kingdom? We have been given these duties. To be the Church means to be a community of Christians who bear the physical and spiritual burden of another. Consider what the Church would be like if each of its members shared the weight of the burden.

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