Beryl Jantzi is Stewardship Education Director for Everence. Over the next few months, Beryl will be exploring our historic roots and current commitment to mutual aid as Christians using “Meditations on Christian Mutual Aid” by J.Winfield Fretz.
Mutual aid is an essential truth of the Christian faith.
Throughout scripture we see the language of family being used – whether it identifies God as father or members of the church as sisters and brothers. Jesus begins to establish a new community that is as close if not closer than our blood relations. Jesus, in his most famous sermon (Matthew 5-7), catalogues a list of virtues that are to be modeled by his followers. At the top of the list is the call to abandon pride, selfishness, greed, hate, and complacency. Instead we are to be concerned about the welfare of others.
Jesus healed and fed those he met on his travels from town to town. It wasn’t just about preaching the good news but it was about demonstrating good news in the most practical of ways. The early church picked up on this and as it begins to develop in its own practices we see this mutual concern for others rise to the top. In Acts 2:45-46 we read, “All that believed were together and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them all, as every person had need. Day by day as they spent time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts.”
A.C. McGiffert, a scholar who has written much about the early church offers an interesting description of these new developing communities of Christ followers. “Within the circle of disciples the love which Jesus modeled burned warm and vivid. One of the most characteristic marks of the life of his followers in the apostolic age was their devotion to one another and their unselfish regard for each other’s good.” (Fretz)
Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:4