Love, Power, and Sacrifice

October 27, 2016 by Micael Grenholm

Editor’s Note: Posts on the Voices blog are penned almost exclusively by members of the Bruderhof worldwide. So today’s guest post by Micael Grenholm is rare and significant. After reading our blog for some time, Micael felt moved to share with our audience his thoughts on following Christ and living in community.

Micael Grenholm

Micael Grenholm

The Bruderhof has always intrigued and inspired me since it takes community of goods very seriously. Ever since I read the book of Acts for the first time as a young Christian I’ve known that the apostolic vision of having everything in common is right for today. My longing for community made me seek out and then join a movement both similar to yet different from the Bruderhof – the Jesus Fellowship Church, also known as the Jesus Army.

“Love, power, and sacrifice” is the motto of this UK church that has practiced intentional community for over forty years. These three words not only summarize the heart of the Jesus Fellowship, but also represent key aspects of community life in general. Even if the practical details of our lives differ, the world needs more communities like Jesus Army and the Bruderhof, and we’d do well to support each other and focus on our commonalities and connections.

Community is founded in God’s nature; the loving relationship between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is our ultimate template for fellowship here in earth. We love because he loved us first. If a community isn’t based on genuine love between brothers and sisters it will always fail. It is love that establishes the commitment, trust, and loyalty that are completely necessary for community to survive.

It is love that establishes common purses so that nobody is rich and nobody is poor. It is love that creates a deep fellowship of friends that includes married couples and those committed to living single for Jesus. It is love that bonds different ages, races, and classes together into faithful brotherhood. While being far from perfect, my experience is that the Jesus Army has this love.

two women talking

If love is what nurtures and sustains community, power is what ignited and started it all. In the late 1960s a Baptist chapel in the small English town of Bugbrooke was hit with charismatic revival fires. People were healed, saved, and baptized in the Holy Spirit. Hundreds filled the little chapel, which soon became known as the Jesus Fellowship. Several attendees spontaneously started intentional communities, which were quickly approved and endorsed by pastor Noel Stanton. In his Bible teaching he pointed to the fact that the spiritual outpouring in the book of Acts led to community of goods.

When God’s power is manifest among us, we recognize more clearly that he is in charge and that we are dependent on him. When I first visited the Jesus Army in 2010, I was baptized in the Spirit at one of their tent meetings. I recognized then that the ethics and values of this movement which I applauded had divine approval.

But community is not only loving and powerful – it is costly. Anyone who has lived in community for some time can testify to the sacrifice it involves. The level of each relationship is measured by how much give and take are going on, and community means close relationships whether you want it or not. It’s often equally wonderful as it is painful.

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). I don’t think martyrdom is the only application of that passage; even when not literally dying for one another, community members experience the committing of our lives to mutual vulnerability and interdependence. Besides, our calling to equality and simplicity means that we have to sacrifice a lot of what the world has to offer in terms of careers, wealth, and “freedom.”

Love, power, and sacrifice are cornerstones of our identity, and I believe that they will inevitably characterize any healthy community, whether it’s the Jesus Army, the Bruderhof, or any other attempt to follow Christ communally. They are all present in the ministry of Jesus, and they are all part of the apostolic teaching in the New Testament letters. Let us pray that God will increase this trio in our lives and relationships even further.

Originally from Sweden, Micael Grenholm calls himself a “charismactivist.” He currently works in the United Kingdom with the Jesus Army, doing a training year at Holy Treasure, Kettering. He blogs at Holy Spirit Activism and produces content for Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice.