“Since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special attention to those who, by the accidents of time, or place, or circumstances, are brought into closer connection with you.”
At UNITED, Pastor Craig said there was a strength and a story that comes from Christians being united in their love of God and others, and in their service to their community.
This was especially true in the ancient Roman world. Melinda Penner writes, “Ancient societies and religion were not known for their care for the sick and dying. Christians who often risked their lives to care even for non-Christians represented a radical difference in the values taught by the Bible than anything else known at that time.”
Melinda writes about the way the sick were abandoned, infants and the elderly were left behind, and the Christians stepped in to help. In fact, history records that it was Christians who not only set the example for compassion to all people, but they systematically organized their care to form the first institutions like hospitals, orphanages, and nursing homes. Read Melinda’s fascinating article by clicking here.
“Today, we take for granted the responsibility to care for the sick regardless of religious convictions.” Melinda writes. “It was Christians practicing what the Bible taught them that began caring for those in need.”
Let’s continue that tradition of compassionate caring in Cedar Springs.
Let’s make sure our unity of compassion tells a story of Christ’s love.
If you heard Pastor Craig’s message at UNITED this year (or you can read the recap here), you heard him talk about how many times the New Testament uses the phrase one another in reference to Christians in unity.
Aaron Gray has a great post entitled “Ten Ways A Church Family Can Love One Another.” You can read Aaron’s full article by clicking here, but he says…
Let’s do all that we can to measure up to the call of unity God has given the church.
Let’s find ways to help “all y’all” as much as we can.
Let’s be strong in our unity all year long!
This is an article which appeared in the Cedar Springs Post following UNITED 2014.
Nine area churches suspended regular Sunday services and united for a joint worship service together at Morley Park, in Cedar Springs, on Sunday, August 24. This is the 6th year the churches have held the joint service, which they call “United.”
Churches attending included Calvary Assembly of God, Cedar Springs United Methodist, Crossfire Ministries, Grace Evangelical Free, Hillcrest Community, North Kent Community, Pioneer Christian Reformed, Solon Center Wesleyan, and The Springs Church.
To learn more about this event, visit http://unitedcedarsprings.com.
Thank you to Lori Oxford for capturing these great moments for us at UNITED 2014! She has more pictures available on her Facebook page.
If you missed our combined UNITED service, here is a recap of Pastor Craig’s message, as he posted it on his blog.
Yesterday I had the honor of speaking at our annual United service in Cedar Springs. I shared something I noticed about the New Testament church: These Christians spent a lot of time together, and that togetherness became a source of strength and told a story to the those watching the Christians.
In passages like Acts 2:42-47 and Acts 4:32-35, we see Christians not only worshiping together, but actively involved in living out their faith. Luke, the writer of the Book of Acts, captures something that Eugene Peterson would summarize this way—
“Christians are a community of people who are visible together at worship but who remain in relationship through the week in witness and service.”
This was not just Christians helping Christians, but Christians helping all the people in their communities. It was Christians who formed the first:
And this caught the notice of everyone. Aristides wrote to Emperor Hadrian about the Christians—
“They help those who offend them, making friends of them; do good to their enemies. They don’t adore idols; they are kind, good, modest, sincere, they love one another; don’t despise widows; protect the orphans; those who have much give without grumbling to those in need. When they meet strangers, they invite them to their homes with joy, for they recognize them as true brothers…. When a poor man dies, if they become aware, they contribute according to their means for his funeral; if they come to know that some people are persecuted or sent to prison or condemned for the sake of Christ’s name, they put their alms together and send them to those in need. If they can do it, they try to obtain their release. When a slave or a beggar is in need of help, they fast two or three days, and give him the food they had prepared for themselves, because they think that he too should be joyful….”
The Apostle Paul challenges followers of Jesus to constantly be growing in the outward demonstrations of our faith: to live our lives worthy of God’s calling, to get along with others, and to be making every effort to keep the bond on unity (see Ephesians 4:1-3).
With this in mind I have to ask myself: Am I doing this in my home town? Is there a strength and a story of Christ’s love that is told in my unity with other Christians? Am I helping to address the needs in Cedar Springs? What are people saying about Jesus because of my unity and service with other Christians?
Here is your checklist: