November 29, 2007

God is Love

About an article on the community's website God is love.
Even active love as a sign of a Christian is an important topic, it took a long time to write about love for the website.. Does it hint to some lack in our love? Or were we too busy in practice of love in other areas?
God's love is giving. He gave us this life and everything. Even more, he gives us eternal life in his son Jesus. He makes us able to love.
Love is not an intense feeling, but is connected with the decision and will to always want the very best for someone.
Only God's love can fulfill our longing for being loved perfectly.

God's love tells the truth, discloses hypocrisy and all other sin, even when it causes unpleasant feelings. E.g: "God gives us everything we need, and gave us many things and abilities for us to love and do good. When we sin we abuse these good gifts from God, using them for evil, without respecting what they were entrusted to us for. A son who squanders all the inheritance his loving, caring father gave him on evil pleasures dishonours and rejects his father. Likewise we dishonour and reject God when we don't ask God how he wants us to live."
-- we dishonor God when we don't use our abilities for good. Not that pleasant to hear, but also challenging to repent.

But I didn't see in the article the famous passage of love from 1Cor 13 "Love is patient, love is kind, love forgives, love doesn't keep list of wrongs..."

God loves everyone, not just the sympathetic ones. Jesus even told to love our enemies and to pray for persecutors, but I didn't notice that last fact in the article.

Love binds Christians together. Love gives also each other trust and freedom. Love doesn't rule over the other.

The first Christians shared even their properties with each other. Anyway, I suppose Jesus didn't want us to make other dependent on ourselves.


November 4, 2007

"You haven't changed your hateful attitude"

About the letter to Gottfried H from the Österreichischen Studentenmission (ÖSM)

Kluge publishes a letter from ÖSM to Gottfried from the year 1980, where they ask him not to visit their meetings any more, because of his unchanged hateful attitude towards them. Josef explains the reason of Gottfried's attitude was the fundamentalist view of the ÖSM that ignores the knowledge of science.

I didn't meet G. very often, but from these meetings and from what I heard from others, I would think that he didn't have really good attitude in this matter. And finally, his exclusion from the community had also some connections to his disrespectful ways of talking to brothers! But it took ~20 years for brothers to realize that he would have needed more brotherly correction..

"You Are All Brothers" (Matt 23:8b)

They, or we, claimed to follow only Christ, no human leader or prophet. We didn't have positions like pastor, priest, bishop, or even elder. As in the Bible time there wasn't one pastor over the flock, but several elders from among them, we were just brothers and sisters. Material tasks were divided according to abilities and time everyone had. Elder and more obedient brothers had tasks of bigger responsibility, but there were no fixed rules who was an 'elder brother'.
Everyone was expected to study the Bible, to share his thoughts and recognitions with others and to evangelize.
* By 'brother' we often didn't mean only males, it's just shorter than 'brothers and sisters', the English translation for German Geschwister and Hungarian testverek. Even English was our common language in my time there, there were only few native English-speakers among us.
* 'Obedient' meant obedient to God, of cause. But in fact, it was mixed with obedience to our community's views.

1Cor 14:24 But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, 25 and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, "God is really among you!"
26 What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.... 29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30 And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31 For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32 The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets.


November 3, 2007

My beginning and way

As for me, the beginning of my Christianity was in 1995 when the Lord reached me via Bible study with some people of Presbyterian + disciple-making background. So my Christianity has been Bible-study-centered. When i started to believe, I learned about various Christian and "Christian" views from the Internet, books, radio.. Later, in the community, I learned even more, also from talks with brothers-sisters and other people. There I learned also to assess the different views more clearly. And I learned more practical self-denial. I learned about co-operation, complementing each other as members of one body, one family. And now I'm learning how to live up this all outside of that close-knit community.


Mr. Kluge describes our arrogant attitude towards denominations and unfortunately it was so. We were much more devoted to the doctrines and to each other than they; we had given up our relationships, possessions, sometimes profession, town, country for living in the community - this was our new family, the God's nation, outside was the world that moves to the condemnation. Inside we were protected from it's evil. Our love to them was expressed by teaching and living the right doctrine..
I think it's right: in the Church we should have protection from the world, Christians should differ from non-Christians and keep themselves pure and holy. We are to assess, warn and encourage each other and unbelievers. But our love should help unbelievers to see the love of Christ in practice. Even we are holy, we are not yet perfect, we ourselves are in a process of sanctification. Many of us were once unbelievers, living in the sins of the world. God has forgiven us and has saved us by grace, so we should be patient with others as He has been with us.. But too often we assumed that we were right because of our greater devotion, correct doctrine, biblical life-style and the Catholics, Baptists and all the others were wrong just because they don't understand or don't practice something as we did. I do think that e.g. Catholics have several false, unbiblical teachings, or that denominations may tolerate some sins too much or to prefer their traditions to the Bible, but i mean: we focused rather on the wrong and weren't ready to learn from outsiders what was good. I suppose it was a way to defend ourselves from outward influence.

Concerning name-calling, I don't remember of hearing of 'Catholic terror organization', but some expressions sounded disrespectful. Well, 'Jehovah false witnesses' seems more justified.. I can recall hearing such expressions only from single older brothers, but generally we were critical towards others.

The same self-defending, opponent-accusing attitude is exemplified by Josef's Apology: he doesn't admit justified criticism but only defends the community. It's not humble enough. It's also a reason why I'm writing this blog: Mr. Kluge has accusing attitude in his description, and Josef is not enough objective either.