Psalms 98; 146, Isaiah 30:18-26, Acts 2:36-41 (42-47), John 14:15-31
The second chapter of Acts describes the Christian church in its earliest days:
All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people.
These are a people who are delighted to be part of the same community. We can’t help but wonder if it presents a model the church in its current form needs to reclaim. But few of us are selling our possessions to help fellow believers or celebrating communion in our homes. We can rationalize why that’s impractical, but it wasn’t any more practical then.
So what happened?
Many things, but here’s a big one. These earliest church members emerged from a culture bogged down in rules. The rules themselves were not bad, but as people tend to do, the leaders had twisted them to maintain power and control. Loving one’s neighbor – and to some extent loving one’s God – had become secondary to technicalities. When Jesus freed them from the law, suddenly they were able to understand, “I don’t have to love my neighbor because it’s a rule complicated by yet more rules; I get to love my neighbor freely.” That spring of love was waiting to burst forth.
When it comes to loving our neighbors, enemies, or the outcast … do we feel like we have to or we get to? Today we often consider forgiveness a burden, but a people no longer bound to mandatory rejection found it freeing. Generosity, whether material or spiritual, is most exhilarating when it’s freely explored.
Let’s embrace that perspective. In a world that says to seek revenge, remember we get to forgive people. In a world that insists practicality is best, remember we get to love extravagantly.
We get to follow Christ. In a world that has largely forgotten, let us remember what a joy that is.
Comfort: You don’t have to. You get to.
Challenge: Pick something you feel like you have to do, such as go to work, clean the house, etc. Figure out a way to look at it as something you get to do.
Prayer: Thank you, God, for all the things I get to do in Christ. Amen.
Discussion: In what ways could you benefit from changing your perspective?
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