Cape Town Commitment – part 1 “For the love of God” has already been created, “For the love of the church” is being worked out here – pray for the team who are writing this.
What kind of people must we be – our theme for today and tomorrow.
At the opening ceremony we started from Pentecost, but the mission of God goes much further back to the covenant with Abraham about 4,000 years ago: that all nations will be blessed. The whole purpose of is that of mission. We see it throughout history, the mission of God bringing the nations back to Him. But there have been many obstacles in the Bible and history to the mission of God. The biggest obstacle isn’t other faiths, governments etc., the greatest problem is his own people. What hurts God the most is not just the sin of the bible, but the sin, the failure of those he has redeemed and called to be his holy people. The majority of the prophets were addressed to God’s own nation, Israel, and yet in contrast we spend all our time attacking the world and not checking our own actions.
The idolatry of foreign nations is important, but even more important is the idolatry of the Israelite people. There are many idols, many false Gods but three
- Power and pride
- Popularity and success
- Wealth and greed
The whole of scripture gives us strong warnings against these idols that pervert people.
Power & Pride
Isaiah, Micah, Jesus, Paul in Ephesians 4: to be obsessed, or even to be concerned with status, office and power in the Christian world is sheer disobedience and destroys what we seek to accomplish.
Popularity & Success
Lead us into dishonesty, distortion and false prophets. Like the false prophets in the Old Testament, they were popular because they gave the people what they wanted to hear. Check out Jeremiah, and the early church in Corinth. We cannot accept lies and questionable statistics to gain funding and support for our projects and ministries. We are called in repentance to humility and integrity.
Wealth & Greed
The idol of greed is seen in the Israelite priests, e.g. Micah, Isaiah. We know God loves to provide abundantly for His people, but Moses in the same book also warned against the danger of that, as your heart can become proud. Jesus gave the same warning. We are called back in reprentance to simplicity.
Jesus faced all three of these temptations from the devil. Jesus chose the path of humility, integrity and simplicity and relied on his father. Tragically so many Christian leaders and missionaries fail these challenges, and then the whole church pays for the cost of their failure. So when we critique the world we are bluntly and rightly told to clean up our own backyard.
On the opening ceremony we looked at the reformation. Why was it needed? Because the same 3 idols were prevalent in the church, and meanwhile the ordinary people lived in ignorance of the Bible. Reformation was the desperate need of the hour. Surely the same desperate need is with us now. Chris dares to suggest that it needs to begin in the world evangelical world. We have self-appointed apostles with little resemblance of the characteristics Paul spoke about or looking like Jesus; we know of false statistics which lead us to the idol of success; we have affirm God’s blessing but many promoters of the prosperity gospel focus on enriching themselves and ignore the theological issue of suffering. Meanwhile so many ordinary people live in a church with biblical poverty and a lack of leadership.
We need reformation and change. We need to go back to the Lord, if we want to change the world we must first change our hearts.
Three words: humility, integrity, and simplicity. In English it is “his”, are we His people. Let us be so for His sake, the missions sake and our sake.
Now a drama piece reflecting on this.
Asked his cousin why he hadn’t gone to church, he’d given his VW away expecting a Mercedes Benz in return hadn’t received anything and so had given up on church. His cousin had been attending a prosperity gospel church.
This prosperity and wealth asserts that followers have a right to health and wealth. Although God’s blessing for people is clearly in scripture. It focuses primarily on material possessions, physical wellbeing, and success in this life.
Many verses are pulled out of context, e.g. Luke 6 which isn’t about giving to God financially or expecting a return but about how we treat others. Instead it’s been twisted to say we’ll received double or even one hundred fold in return.
There is a tendency to distort the mission of Christ from to forgive us from our sins to something about making us rich. It’s very rare to hear a sermon on sin and salvation in a prosperity church. Jesus never taught a prosperity gospel, instead he constantly warns us about an abundance of wealth and possessions. The prosperity gospel is unjust leading to a widening of the poverty gap, why should any follower of Jesus subscribe to a gospel that is more focused on celebrity than on resolving injustice.
The prosperity gospel is nothing less that a shocking delusion.
How do we respond
- The prosperity gospel is primarily about money, it contradicts the lfie of Jesus and the purpose of why he died on the cross.
- We need to take the plight of the poor and reject this gospel and find ways that resolve injustice and poverty.
- We need to repent for the ways in which we have aligned ourselves with it, or to idolize more possessions.
Now a video from Synergy Womens Network on partnership of people – especially men and women – and the injustice many women around the world suffer.
When God created the world he saw it was good, and yet we see brokenness, and destruction. Only the church can portray by word and deed what God intended in the creation of men and women. We can be part of the problem living in the world, or we can be part of the solution and help share vision of a world of inclusion.
As we look at the reality of this world we have failed to speak up against injustice, we see Christian women beaten by their husband, we’ve kept women out of leadership just because they’re women.
We can confront those in power, praying for the strong walls of sin to be broken, we can start with our lives. God calls us to release women to use the gifts He has given them – let’s make space for them to use their gifts on our boards, in our committees, in our leadership teams, etc.
God calls us to be reconciled to one another, let us stop fighting, the world isn’t interested in the struggles between complementarianism and egalitarianism, and not sure that God is interested. We need to acknowledge our difference and the gifting we have. We need to commit to partnership.
The piano is a helpful image – all the keys are used and equal – and it isn’t the keys who decide which ones are used but the composer of the piece of music. So it should be in our church.
Into table groups discussing how the church can deal with those three idolatries.
Chris Wright is back up again highlighting that our primary cause of disunity is based around us building on these three things. We need to grow more transparent together, because there is no biblical mission without biblical living, so let’s have a time of prayer, focusing on the cross to repent and commit afresh.