Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 99; 147:1-11, Micah 7:7-15, Acts 3:1-10, John 15:1-11
One afternoon, Peter and John were walking to the temple to pray. At the gate known as the Beautiful Gate, they encountered a man who had been lame from birth. Every day people would lay this man at the entrance to the gate, where he would beg for alms (donations). When Peter and John asked the man to look at them, he expected they would give him something. Instead, they healed him in the name of Jesus of Nazareth. The man then “entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.”
The people who laid the man by the gate and the people who offered him alms were decent souls. They did what they could to help someone in need, but they never quite improved his situation. Peter and John, empowered by Jesus, finally addressed the root cause of his misfortune.
As the Body of Christ, are we content to treat symptoms, or do we want to find cures? Do we want to pass out sandwiches and blankets to the homeless, or do we want to tackle the injustices which create poverty? It’s really not an either/or situation. Those alms at the Beautiful Gate kept our lame friend alive until someone came along to cure him.
The church has been a body of service since its foundation. Its earliest members pooled their resources to support each other, and also helped the needy in the larger community. What we – the many branches depending on Christ as our life-giving vine – can accomplish together is miraculous. The trick is to remember that worship, charity, justice, and sacrifice are not separate activities, but different names for same love of God. When we serve, we pray. When we show mercy, we praise. When we foster justice, we declare Christ.
Spreading the Gospel means more than telling people they need Jesus. It means doing our best to embody Christ in the world whether we are comforting a friend, building homes on a mission trip, or confronting a corrupt empire. May people always see Christ in us, and may we always see Christ in them.
Comfort: We all have a part to play in spreading the Gospel.
Challenge: Are you playing your part to its fullest?
Prayer: Gracious God, may my every act be one of praise for you. Amen.
Discussion: In what ways do you feel most comfortable sharing the Gospel? Least comfortable?
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