In their final earthly conversation, the last question the disciples thought to ask Jesus before he ascended to heaven was a political question. In today’s idiom it would be phrased ‘will you now make Israel great again?’ Jesus refuses to answer politically but promises them the power of the Holy Spirit and says you are to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judaea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth.
Far too many believers today get caught up in the politics of Christian nationalism and believe that the Gospel is here to make their nation ‘great again’. Jesus shows no interest in that political nationalism. He does not seem to think that faith can be legislated or imposed politically. Rather it is to model God’s reign by being his witness in churches embedded in communities. Nor is the Gospel here to make any nation, including Israel, great again. His interest is global. It reaches to the ends of the earth because the Gospel is universal and all are made in the image of God. We are his witnesses. We aim to make Jesus great again or MJGA!!
Cinammon International is now spreading to many nations by focussing on the church in local communities. It strengthens the witness of local churches. Churches are both communities within themselves and they are central to the health of their wider communities. Cinammon recognises that Community is the third pillar in a flourishing society – the other two being the State and the Market.
Unfortunately, for at least the last 200 years, this third pillar of Community has been the poor cousin. The State has grown in power, the Market in wealth creation but families and communities have been fragmenting. To be witnesses to Jesus, is to recognise that Gospel transformation happens in families and communities. The sharing of wonderful projects that Churches run to transform their communities is to be witnesses to Jesus. And Cinammon understands that such projects utterly depend on the power of the Holy Spirit.
Reference: ‘Then they gathered around him and asked him ‘Lord ,are you at this time going to restore the Kingdom to Israel?’ – Acts 1 : 6
By Tim Costello
Patron of Cinnamon Network Australia
Previously CEO and Chief Advocate of World Vision Australia; Chair of the Community Council of Australia; Winner of the Australian Peace Prize 2008; Listed by the National Trust as a ‘National Living Treasure’