A God-Sized View
In Luke 16:1-16 Jesus shares a parable about a manager who is being fired by his master. The manager and his master were totally preoccupied with achieving a single goal–more wealth. The master heard that there was something wrong and told the manager to give an account of his money. The story makes it clear that the way of the world is based on being shrewd. The rich man loaned his property to borrowers. The manager had the borrowers reduce the amount they owed to make him look good and to gain support from the borrowers. When the master found out what had been done, he commended the manager for being so shrewd, but we can only assume he still fired the manager. Jesus told of a rich ruler who wanted to know how to gain eternal life. The ruler said “What more must I do?” Jesus said to him, “Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Giving up his wealth was too great of a price for him in exchange for eternal life. Jesus said the “we cannot serve both God and money.” He wants us to use the resources we have been given to tell as many people as possible about eternal life through Jesus.
Prayer and Process
We have often heard, “let’s just get down to the basics” – just the stuff that matters, set aside the all the extra and really take care of business, you know, the important things. The simple challenges can be the most daunting. We crowd our lives, all facets of our lives – work, family, and church – with all manner of details, tasks, and general busy work that jams up our schedules and leads us away from what is really important. How do we know what the real basics are all about? Acts 2:42 lays out a simple plan followed by the early church, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” It is interesting to note that it does not say “the apostles continued steadfastly in their teaching” but that the church continued steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching. This verse is our plan to follow in our time just as it was the plan for the early church. Our mission at First Christian is in keeping with Acts 2:42, simple and straightforward – Love God, Love People, and serve others. And as the verse commands, we surround our efforts in prayer. We have a standard to follow – loving God through the study of His word, loving people through fellowship, and devotion to others through service in the community of man…with prayer guiding and binding all those efforts together. How do we measure up to the standard of the early church? Are we spending our time on the “basics”?
Passion and Compassion
There’s an old idiom called “circling the wagons” that people do when they face trying circumstances. Circling the wagons means that we close in amongst ourselves to where we are shoulder to shoulder with each other seeking to insulate ourselves from the outside. We stop communicating and having interactions with people not in our group as a means of staying strong and safe. This theory of “circling the wagons” doesn’t work well for churches, however. Being a follower of Jesus takes more than just standing together and being holed up in the church reading our Bibles, and praying. As Christians, we are called to serve our communities and to be a positive influence to those around us. Matthew 25:40 says The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Christians in churches sometimes have a tendency to be cynical of those outside of the church. We may develop mistrust and a general lack of goodwill toward folks who haven’t accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. But our Lord calls his church to be an inviting place that is willing to share with and give aid and instruction to all…regardless of their background, former beliefs and practices, appearances, or needs. Former President George Bush once said “I take as my guide the hope of a saint: in crucial things, unity…in important things, diversity…in all things, generosity.” Let us be united and generous with all.