September 25, 2019
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1. They isolate members from other people
Relationships with family and friends outside the community that do not further the goals of the community become suspect.
2. They disconnect members from the reality of the world around them
People who don’t have to choose and pay for their own food, clothing and shelter can hardly relate to the people around them who do.
3. Giving is mandatory, not voluntary
When someone joins a commune, he voluntarily gives all he has to the community. After that he is assigned tasks to do for the well-being of the community.
4. Conversion becomes merely assent to the values of the community
When one’s home and livelihood are tied to being a member, young people who grow up in the community face enormous pressure to make an outward commitment to the faith of the community. Those who are already members also face pressure to admit young people on such a basis, for the continuation of the community.
5. Allegiance to the community outranks a relationship with God
Since the community is believed to be the ultimate expression of the will of God, a personal relationship with God and being led of the Holy Spirit are taught to be synonymous with living in accordance with the values of the community.
Sharing of material blessings received from God, mutual aid, bearing one another’s burdens, helping the poor and the weak are all values clearly taught in the New Testament. But they are taught as voluntary actions proceeding from a heart that is transformed by the Spirit of God.
2 Corinthians 9:7 – Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
November 30, 2017
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I once had a poster with a picture of a sailing ship at rest in a calm harbour. The caption read: A ship in a harbour is safe — but that’s not what ships are made for.
There have always been Christians who thought that the safest way to live a pure Christian life was to find a safe harbour where they could rest in serene isolation from the storms of the surrounding world. But that’s not what Christians are made for.
Ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth, Acts 1:8.
Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature, Mark 16:15.
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear, 1 Peter 3:15.
As I read the Scriptures, I am convinced that isolation is not a safe harbour for Christians. Our safety is in being obedient to our Lord and keeping our hearts and minds pure. But we have the unfortunate tendency to deceive ourselves about our inward purity if our faith is not tested daily in our relations with others. It is too easy for us to become smug and self-righteous.
We are made for something much more important than resting in a safe harbour. The important thing is to be sure that our Lord is the master of our ship as we venture out into the seas of life.