Who Cares? The Church Takes Care of Her Own

Kristin Straeuli, FELSISA Stewardship Coordinator, Greytown

Who Cares?

Although this virus may be unprecedented for us, crises in the life of the Church are not.  We can learn and take our cues from how our forefathers in the faith reacted when tested with famine, war, disease, and persecution.  This brief Bible study is to help you confidently go forth in our situation by looking at how the people of God have cared during difficult times in the past.

The Church Takes Care of Her Own

As the early Apostolic Church was first growing after the resurrection of Jesus, they were still very much cast out from the rest of society because of their beliefs.  If believers did not take care of one another through acts of charity, it often simply would not happen.  Later, as Christianity became society-wide in the Western world, the charity also became society-wide.

 Discuss what it means to be “in the world, but not of it.”

    1. “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” – John 15:19
  1. How do governments today largely take over the role of taking care of people (think: welfare)? Do we even need to rely on our church family anymore to help us? Are there negative consequences if we do not need the church in this way anymore?
  2. How can Christians still faithfully care for one another, in spite of the many aids from governments, society, etc.?
  3. Read: Acts 2:42 – 47
    1. What can we learn from these early believers? About sharing? Trust? Generosity?
    2. Look closely at verse 45: “And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.”
    3. Would we be willing to give so generously of “our” possessions (belongings, land, livelihood) to benefit the whole?
    4. Would we be willing to “pay it forward,” not requiring to know in advance exactly to whom or what our gift would go (“as any had need”)? Why? See also 1 Corinthians 16:1-3.
    5. How does our view on ownership affect our answers? Do we think we have earned something, or do we believe God has given and entrusted them to us?
  4. In light of this, does Galatians 6:10 make more sense? “Therefore, as we have the opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

The Church Takes Care of Others

  1. Vocation: The Lutheran approach to caring for our neighbours
    1. God has placed us in specific roles in relation to those around us, whom we are to serve as Christ serves us.
    2. What are your specific vocations? How many can you think of?
      1. Martin Luther writes in the Confession and Absolution section of his Small Catechism, “Consider your place in life according to the Ten Commandments: Are you a father, mother, son, daughter, husband, wife, or worker?”
    3. The order of vocation: Family, Church, Community. We should begin with our most immediate neighbours, and work outward.
  2. Christian care is both physical and spiritual, for body and soul.
    1. What are the ways in which God takes care of you? Do you think of God as providing more in theory, or in concrete ways? (Review the meanings to The First Article of the Apostle’s Creed and the Fourth Petition of the Lord’s Prayer.)
      1. The First Article… What does this mean? I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still takes care of them. He also gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land, animals, and all I have. He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life. He defends me against all danger and guards and protects me from all evil. All this He does only out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me. For all this, it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him. This is most certainly true.
      2. The Fourth PetitionWhat is meant by daily bread? Daily bread includes everything that has to do with the support and needs of the body, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, a devout husband or wife, devout children, devout workers, devout and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, self-control, good reputation, good friends, faithful neighbours, and the like.
    2. What does the Incarnation of Jesus Christ teach us about the importance of both body and soul in how God shows love? (Read John 1:1-5; 2 Corinthians 8:9; Philippians 2:6-7.)
    3. With this Divine example, what ways can you identify to show God’s love to others in your community? What are the concrete needs of others around you? (Look at Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:31 – 40.)
  3. Consider the difference between offerings and alms-giving.
    1. Offerings support the ministry of your congregation: pastor’s salary, building payments, grounds maintenance, ministry, missionary support, etc.
    2. Alms are extra collections to specifically help the unfortunate (widows, orphans, poor, hungry, etc.).
  4. What are some benefits of acting as a church or congregation, rather than individually? (Matthew 5:16)
  5. Ultimately, what empowers us to stop focusing on ourselves and care for others?
    1. Knowing we have a Father in heaven who provides everything for us.
    2. Knowing that we are imitating the love that Christ has shown us on the cross.

We have many examples in the New Testament of the early Church caring for their brothers and sisters in Christ. In 49 AD, the apostle Paul organized relief from the Corinthian Christians for the Christians hit hard by famine in Jerusalem.  About 100 years later (166-188 AD), during the Antonine Plague (likely the introduction of smallpox in Europe), it was the port town of Corinth that needed help.  On top of the terrible illness running rampant, Christians were being persecuted by Emperor Marcus Aurelius, who thought that the pestilence was a punishment for letting this new belief group in his territory. How did the Body of Christ respond?  The Church in Rome took its turn to send relief, and the Christians in Corinth cared for those within and without the Church, in body and soul.  In the face of disease and persecution, Christianity instead increased because unbelievers saw that the Christians’ care for one another was greater than their fear of death. May we also be so bold of witnesses through caring for one another!

Kristin Straeuli

FELSISA Stewardship Coordinator

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