Today @ Healingsprings fellowship

The Church is not the building, but the people. When Jesus spoke of a kingdom he was talking about people working together in bringing about God's reign here on earth. In fact when the church lost focus of this and became carried away with activities, Paul reminded them writing,

"For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" – (Rom. 14:17)

As well as others, the hallmark of the kingdom remains these three elements: righteousness, peace and joy that springs from the very presence of God to his people through Christ. This joy does not deny hardship, persecution or challenges, but it abides and flourishes in-spite of. This joy was what sustained the church through persecution, and empowered it to move from being a minority faith to becoming mainstream.

Following last week's teaching on the Jesus' Ministry, by way of interlude we will be discussing the church and our role in expanding it in our time.

Join us today as we explore the scriptures.

3pm – 4:30pm
The Parish Hall
St John's Sidcup,
Church Road,
Sidcup,
Kent DA14 6BX

Reachout | Revive | Recover
http://www.healingsprings.org.uk

Thought Leaders Series: 2017

The World of Work 

When Jesus asserted that we cannot serve God and money (Luke 16), he was advancing an argument against the world of commerce. His ideas were centred around the early forms of capitalism.

By way of context, with centralised governments the burden of taxation had increased significantly. For instance, colonial masters charged their subjects for central and local administration, and a percentage of this revenue is returned to the State’s treasury. The impact of this policy is a massive economic gulf between the rich and poor. Most of the elites will offer their services to their colonial masters in one capacity or another. They serve as tax collectors, magistrates, administrators etc. The funds they made might be used to acquire lands, which the poor cultivated. 
There was always competition among these poor farmers as a result of pressure from landowners for yield, thereby creating a toxic environment within their social class. Community spirit is broken, cooperation eroded, and social capital diminishes. People are left behind. The sick, disabled, and vulnerable ones are seen as liabilities. 

We fast forward to the 21st century, and Jesus’ indictment still holds. We have a broken system. The world of work is competitive, aggressive, selfish and very tribal. Marx argues that the reason we are largely unhappy with work is because we no longer do what we enjoy, but rather, we are producing things which gives us little or no benefit directly. As such work becomes a burden. 

So, many argue that our world of work is responsible for much of our social ills today. Workers are stressed, people are fearful about going to work, people are living on pain killers and stimulants. Relationships suffer and our communities collapse. Even worse, as we are slowly loosing what is left of work to machines, the rate of suicide is rising fast. 
Added to this is the fact that without being involved in these dehumanising activities one can hardly survive in this world. Our basic needs like food, shelter, clothing; depends on this system. But in every sector: government, charities (sadly even churches), social enterprise, private; the world of work offers little or no value to our general well being. It is either heavily bureaucratic, dangerous, or serving the interest of a few. 
Therefore, it is not the configuration, but the overarching idea. What Marx calls the Superstructure.

This system enslaves humanity, and it stops us from harnessing our true potentials. Jesus saw it, hence he called for reordering. In similar vein David Platt argues:

“A materialistic world will not be won to Christ by a materialistic church.” 

Reachout | Revive | Recover

http://www.healingsprings.org.uk

What is the point with the Old Testament?

With the understanding of our New Covenant in Christ, many people question the role of the Old Testament in Christianity. 
The answer to this pertinent question can be captured in Paul’s challenge to Timothy,

[do] your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth. (2 Tim. 2:15)

At the time of writing, Christianity was still at its formative state, hence there was no text known as the New Testament. Clearly this admonition was for the study of the Torah, Mishnah, Midrash, and other classical Jewish writings. 
Paul himself had studied under Gamaliel, a known Rabbi with intellectual lineage to back his teaching and worldview. With a view to assert his authority, Paul gives us a preview of his credentials when he notes,

“I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia,but brought up in this city. I studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law of our ancestors. I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today.” (Acts 22:3)

Paul, and by proxy Timothy, were both baptised or filled with the Holy Spirit; yet he exhorted Timothy to study these texts. 

Dear friends, Paul was passing on old Jewish culture or tradition, in this case: lineage of knowledge or philosophy, and excellence in vocation. For example, like Jesus, Paul’s studied the equivalent of a degree in Theology; while Gamaliel would have stood on platforms as a Professor of Theology. 
In fact when the gospel writer asserts that Jesus,  

“taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.” (Matthew 7:29); 

they were highlighting the fact that he was doing something unique with the text; in other words, shifting from his lineage. The same is done about John the Baptist when the writer notes that ‘he shall be called John’, and that he was, ‘in the wilderness until the day of his showing to Israel’.

To this end the Old Testament serves the following primary purpose:
1. It provides us with materials to explore the rich history, culture, context and worldview of the Jews, for the purpose of understanding and teaching 

  1. It shows us the theological progression of the Jews, and the intersection by Christ, in his effort to Reconcile the ‘Gentiles’ into a New Covenant
  2. It gives us an understanding of what the New Testament writers were trying to achieve in their effort to bridge the gap between Judaism and what we know today as ‘Christianity’ 

  3. It gives a blue print for the Christian faith. Which can be best described as a universal form of Judaism whose vision is for a kingdom bound by a common faith and destiny that is centred around Christ, as to a kingdom bound by heritage.
    Father, enlarge our hearts. Give us a vision for humanity. We ask through you son Jesus Christ. 

To a blessed week!

This Sunday @ Healingsprings fellowship

The destruction, collapse, and eventual Exile of the Northern and Southern kingdoms posed major challenges for the elites and people of Israel and Judah.

Faced with defeat, destruction of infrastructures and institutions, how do you sustain and rebuild a nation? How do you create new narratives when the prevailing one fails to hold water?
In a strange way instead of wallowing in defeat, The Exile afforded them the opportunity to debate, challenge old paradigms, and to come up with a roadmap for nation building. 
When the opportunity came, they seized it! Some returned to Palestine, started capturing and documenting their oral history and culture, addressing loose ends in theological understanding, and providing new narratives to old and new challenges, some based on what they gleaned from other cultures. 
Perhaps most importantly they realised that they lacked military might (By strength shall no man prevail, 1 Sam. 2:9), so they invested in knowledge acquisition. This also meant moving away from the central authorities of the monarchy and priesthood, and making the people sustainers of the Nation. No need for kings, prophets or oracles. Rather, the people were to be educated, and the Text made accessible to them. So the synagogues became the centre of knowledge transfer and community life, the home a hub for reinforcing such knowledge. 
They designed a curriculum, and embarked on an educational system which many argue is the blue print for Western education. The Community was bound to One God and Covenant; hence the term ‘gentiles’. This curriculum is what we know today as the Old Testament. Scribes and Rabbis will be trained to maintain this system, commentaries will be added to the original Text, and the Text will be revised and edited a few times; leading to the version we have today. 
By the time of our Lord, these radical reforms would have sustained the Community through wars, natural disasters, famine and various military invasions. 
Jesus will come on the scene, make further reforms, then commission his disciples to move it beyond the Community and into the World. To this end Paul argues that,

“in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.” – 2 Cor. 5:19

Join us on Sunday as we continue with my series: God was in Christ, when I will be speaking on: Incarnation, Nativity and Second Coming.
3pm 

The Parish Hall 

St John’s Sidcup,

Church Road, 

Sidcup, 

Kent DA14 6BX
Reachout | Revive | Recover

http://www.healingsprings.org.uk

Sin?

Some of the ideas we hold as ‘truths’ in judaeo-Christian traditions were very radical ideas when they were advanced.  
For instance when Amos took up the plight of the poor and disenfranchised (who at the time were seen as cursed by Yahweh), he was very unpopular with the ecclesiastical authorities and the people of him time. 
In fact, Jesus’ continuous mingling with ‘sinners’ was the chief reason why he was unpopular with groups like the Pharisees, eventually, leading to his death. In a strange way affirming that he died for ‘the sins of the world’.
I say this to note that what we term as ‘sin’ today have not always been absolutes. A case in point, the writer of Ruth vindicated Boaz for accepting Ruth (a Moabite) in marriage, in what can also be best described as a polygamous relationship. In similar vein Jesus challenged ‘sacred’ concepts like: fasting, giving, sabbath, and even Temple worship. 
Friends, we miss the mark if we don’t realise that Christianity and her older cousin Judaism has always been about people – especially those at the fringes of society. It’s about the bringing together of ALL, even the lost. It’s about creating ‘One New Man’.

Therefore, if people are hurting, we ought to be listening. If they are left behind, we should be reaching out. If they are tired, we should be reviving.
It’s also noteworthy to stress that most of what we refer to as the Old Testament was written retrospectively as part of nation building after The Exile.

As such, the Hebrew cannon (the Old Testament) consists of oral, administrative and historical documents that were edited and crystallised with a political vision of keeping the people and their culture together. A project which I believe Africa can learn from.

Perhaps, also important is the fact that the Christian notion of sin emerged from these Old Testament texts, and the prevailing view of the time. Hence we should be very wary when the shadows of these texts are cast on us today.
We need to build on the foundations laid by Christ: love towards God, through our love towards humanity, especially the ostracised. Even at the cost of our very lives. 

We Are Moving Forward!

Dear friends,

It gives me great joy to announce to you that we have secured use of a purpose-built church hall with kitchen facilities in Sidcup for our Sunday services.
So, starting Sunday 2nd October, we will be having services at:
St John The Evangelist

Church Hall,

Church Road,

Sidcup DA14 6BX
3pm – 4:30pm (refreshment afterwards)
This Sunday we will be holding our last service at Bexleyheath Academy, 

Where I will be building on ideas from Ruth chapters 3 & 4. Same time, same room!

“For there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay.” – Habakkuk 2:3

The Temple: the Day of Atonement

“The evening meal of the high-priest before the great day [the Day of Atonement] was to be scanty. All night long he was to be hearing and expounding the Holy Scriptures, or otherwise kept employed, so that he might not fall asleep” 

  • Alfred Edersheim, The Temple: the Day of Atonement