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Micael Grenholm, a Swedish charismactivist, apologist and author.

Micael Grenholm, a Swedish charismactivist, apologist and author.

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Pacifism in the early Church

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Pacifism:

The principal support for the view that the Bible advocates pacifism comes from Christ’s Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 5:39-44, He states:

But I say to you, do not resist him who is evil; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone wants to sue you, and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. And whoever shall force you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.

In addition, in Luke 6:27-35, from Christ’s sermon on the plain:

But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. And just as you want men to treat you, treat them in the same way. And if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.

John 6:15:

Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.

Mathew 26:50-52:

Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.”

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God vs Wealth, part 4: The Church Fathers

To read other parts of the series, go here.

Early Christian Teaching on Wealth and Poverty

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“Share everything with your brother. Do not say, ‘It is private property.’ If you share what is everlasting, you should be that much more willing to share things which do not last.” – The Didache, c. 90 AD, (Did. 4:8)

“Now then hear me and be at peace among yourselves, have regard one to another, and assist one another, and do not partake of what God has created alone in abundance, but share it with those that are in need. For some men through their much eating bring weakness on the flesh, and injure their flesh: whereas the flesh of those who have nothing to eat are injured by not having sufficient nourishment, and their body is ruined. This absence of community therefore is hurtful to you that have and do not share with them that are in want. Think of the judgment that will come! You then, that have more than enough, seek out them that are hungry!” … “Take heed therefore; as dwelling in a strange land prepare nothing more for yourself but a competency which is absolutely sufficient and necessary.” – The Shepherd of Hermas, c. 110 AD, (Herm. Vis. 3:9:2-5 and Herm. Sim. 1:6)

“They [Christians] love one another. They do not overlook the widow, and they save the orphan. He who has, ministers ungrudgingly to him who does not have. When they see strangers, they take him under their own roof and rejoice over him as a true brother, for they do not call themselves brothers according to the flesh but according to the soul.” – Aristides, early 2nd century (Apology 15)

“We who once took most pleasure in the means of increasing our wealth and property now bring what we have into a common fund and share with everyone in need.” – Justin Martyr, 100-165 AD (1st Apology 14)
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Community of Goods at the Jesus Army

Is it really possible to share everything, like the apostles did on Pentecost (Acts 2:44-45), today? Many Christians in the Western world seem to think that the community of goods is an unrealistic utopia, and thus, they don’t even try to live like the apostles. But the Jesus Army in the UK proves that it indeed is possible to live a New Testament life. Many of their church members live in the New Creation Christian Community, where they share everything, just like in the book of Acts. They write:

CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY

Practising a radical ‘New Creation’ lifestyle in the Jesus Fellowship

Jesus Army LogoYou don’t have to live in Christian community to belong to the Jesus Fellowship! But many of us do! Around 700 of us share our possessions and pool our income and wealth (if we have any!) to live like the early Christians. They had “all things in common”[Acts 2:44] and “no-one said that any of the things which he possessed was his own”.[Acts 4:32]

That was the result of the power of the Holy Spirit coming on the church at Pentecost. And our community life, too, is the result of the Holy Spirit’s presence. We have power to love! Power to serve! Power to share!

We’re able to break the mould. To escape from the rut. The question we ask is “How does God want us to live?” Of course it’s to love. Of course it’s to share. Of course it’s to show that through new life in Jesus He brings into being a new way of living!

Jesus had little to call His own.[Matt 8:20] He shared a pooled fund with His disciples.[Mark 10:28] He warned of the love of money.[Mark 10:21,22] Small wonder then that Peter led the new converts at the day of Pentecost into Christian community.

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All of Pentecost

Pentecost

Pentecost is a forgotten holiday, when even Pentecostals celebrate Valentine’s day more than they celebrate Pentecost, it is obvious that we have a problem. We have to celebrate Pentecost – not by starting some strange tradition of dressing trees with small tongues of fire and eating dove-formed chocolate – but by intensively praying for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost, as it is described in Acts chapter 2, is repeatable, and that is fantastic news for the sleeping church in the Western world.

When the Holy Spirit was poured out in Acts 2 there was indeed an explosion of the miraculous gifts of the Spirit – tongues, healing, prophecy etc. – but also of the sanctifying fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, peace etc. These fruits are not only nice feelings, they lead to a radical lifestyle. On Pentecost, the first Christians had everything in common; they put economic equalization into practice, while they were performing signs and wonders. The charismatic gifts were combined with poverty reduction.

Charismatic Poverty Reduction

In 2010, a 20 year-old woman named Teresa Jebiwot participated in a revival meeting in Kisumu, southern Kenya. She was born without a cornea, which made her totally blind, not knowing if it was day or night unless someone told her. On the revival meeting however, she got completely healed when the prophet David Owour prayed for her, and she started to see perfectly. This was verified by an eye specialist, Dr. Agnes Maiyo, at the Iten District Hospial. More information about the healing can be found here.

I find this very beautiful; it is not easy to be blind in such a poor country as Kenya, but the wonderworking power of God did what no aid organisation can do. Teresa’s healing is a contemporary parallel to Bartimaeus’ healing in Mark 10:46-52. He was a blind beggar, and when Jesus healed him, three things happened: Firstly, people realized that God exist. Secondly, Bartimaeus could see God’s beautiful creation. Thirdly, he never had to beg again. Jesus used a miracle to set him free from poverty. Signs and wonders was combined with social justice. (more…)