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Antioch Principle – Generosity

July 10, 2015

So the church in Antioch was the first church that grew around the life transforming experience of people meeting Jesus without all the organisation, culture, traditions (baggage) of being Jewish. In fact it spilled over into having a new identity, a new community – and a new name, Christians.

Given this beginning, what activities, patterns and traditions did they pick up and find useful – and which did they leave on the shelf for the Jewish-Christian believers in Jerusalem?

The first thing they did was to respond to a message from a prophet who rocked up from Jerusalem. (Acts chapter11) His message from God was a warning (prediction) that the guys in Jerusalem would soon be experiencing famine. – Now, there are several ways in which the early church could respond to this:

  • decide it is none of their business and ignore it.
  • take a cautious approach and wait to see if the prophecy comes to pass.
  • set up an all night prayer meeting to ask God to do a miracle for the people in Jerusalem.
  • send a message to warn people to start stockpiling food to get through the famine.
  • take responsibility for helping and send some money.

The fact that they took responsibility actually tells us that they had had generosity as one of their core values. It wasn’t an individual thing – instead it was something they did together. Neither was it a levy that was imposed by the leaders, we find that each person contributed as they were able.

When we stop to think about this it is actually pretty amazing. I think underneath the action is a fundamental belief that God is generous to us – so we can afford to be generous to others. It is a nailing of their colours to the mast to say that they are convinced that God will look after them, but that they can partner with God by being the  answer to their own prayers.

We see elsewhere in Lukes story of the early church that they lived with an amazing generosity, sometimes selling land to ensure that those in need are helped. We see later in the story that sometimes churches gave not just what they had, but “beyond their means” to meet the needs of others. Living with an open hand was more than a lifestyle choice, it was fundamental to how this community was formed.

And – just in case you had missed the really obvious point. These were people who lived out what they said they believed. Not for them some service on a Sunday, then live their lives as if nothing was different. They were literally the kind of people who “put their money where their mouth is”

In the next blog I will look at how leadership happened in this first church.

One Comment
  1. July 10, 2015 10:41 am

    Loving your Antioch Principle series. 😊

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