Recently the Vineyard International Executive, led by John and Eleanor Mumford, met with His Holiness Pope Francis in a historic moment at the Vatican. This is a continued sign of the increased unity amongst the body of Christ around the world and points towards the way in which God is moving his sovereign hand amongst His church for His glory. Noel Isaacs was part of this contingent. Below are a few of his thoughts and what stood out to him about the meetings and Francis’ responses to a few questions he was asked.
1) Priority of the poor in the gospel
Never forget the poor. You can never understand the gospel without the poor. Jesus came to the poor, the needy, the Sick! We need to understand the poor in order to understand the Gospel. In raising awareness for the poor, you quickly get accused being a Communist. But it is not about Communism or Capitalism, but about the Reign of God (which equals the Kingdom of God). The poor need our attention, our love, and our care – only through them can we understand the Gospel.
Serving two masters:
The Bible says you cannot serve to masters. The problem is not the money in itself, but loosing your heart to the money: “The devil comes through your pocket”. There are three, we might say, main ways in which the devil tries to gain our hearts. The first is money, the second is vanity, the third is pride. When the church thinks she has become rich, that moment is the beginning of her downfall. The true treasure of the Church is not the buildings, not what we might call property, but the Spirit, the poor, our hearts….
It might sound foolish, but there is a poverty of the rich man: It is him who thinks he can save himself with money, who thinks he can have everything through money and possessions, but is never filled and satisfied.
2) What do you think the Holy Spirit is saying to the Church?
It’s all about unity. The Pope had spoken in his liturgy that very morning about the Holy Spirit, partially out of Galatians.
There are three ways we can regard or react to the Holy Spirit:
1) to ignore the Holy Spirit (you stupid Galatians! Galatians 3.1ff), which, according to the holy father is simply stupid (stupido)!!
2) to grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4.30) by not giving him room to work, by keeping him to yourself and stay inward focused.
3) to give Him room to work through us. We should be as a ship with its sails set high to catch the wind (he made a gesture to underline his words by raising his hands).
3) How can we contribute to the unity of the Church and bless the Roman Catholic Church?
Walk forward together and journey together. This implies going forward and being in motion. It involves working in practical ways together, to pray together and for each other and to care for the poor (we might say, do ministry) together.
We serve and minister WITH the poor, not TO the poor. The standard is what we find in Matthew 25. After all, this is how Jesus says that we will be “judged”.