Steve brought us some thoughts regarding the mission of the church, centered on the study of Acts 4:32 to Acts 5:17. Mission was defined as "the word of God extending." This passage in Acts shows just that. Steve summarized this account of the early church using three adjectives. The mission of the church during this time was stunning, sobering, and spectacular. The snapshot of the church in Jerusalem being of "one heart and soul" is stunning. As you move into Acts 5, the account of Ananias and Sapphira is sobering, in that it is a reminder that the Lord desires our holiness. And finally, the spreading of God's word was spectacular, seeing that many people were being healed and also believed in the Lord.
It is not much different now:
- When a body of people is of "one heart and soul" in our time, it is seen as surprising and compromising. How could anyone forfeit their personal agendas and be united in all things?! It doesn't make much sense to most of our modern world.
- Most people are not concerned about their holiness much anymore, but that there is a portrayal of holiness to others in the world. We're more fearful of the consequences of our sin, as opposed to fearing the presence of that sin itself.
- And, finally, there are many signs and wonders happening today. But, I suppose these things are not seen as spectacular, as we now seem to find almost anything to be "spectacular". The adjective seems to be used too liberally, and maybe we lose sight of the small, but miraculous acts happening within our midst.
As a reflection, Steve asked the question, "What would be sensational, inexplicable, or spectacular in our neighborhood parishes?" It got me thinking throughout the week, and our parish had the ability to think through that question on Wednesday. It is sometimes easy to overlook the seemingly small changes in people's lives without thinking about the fact that one's acceptance of the Lord's grace can impact families for generations to come.
In our parish there are some of us that have been Christians for almost all their lives. There are some of us that have been raised in the church, but only had head knowledge about the Lord, refusing until later to allow that knowledge of his grace to soften our hearts. There are also those that were not raised in the the church, and are new to the faith, being challenged by long standing practices, patterns of thinking and routines. People's motives and thoughts are questioned, not for the sake of correction, but for the sake of growing in holiness and understanding of the Lord's work in our lives. When we look a bit closer, these changes in all of our lives are spectacular.
These accounts reminded me of Shai Linne's song, Testify, which chronicles the story of Mike, Sue and Cece, three characters that lived incredibly different lives, but still came to the same saving understanding of the Lord. This is a parallel of what the members of our parishes and churches have experienced. There are spectacular changes in some lives, and spectacular graces evidenced in the Lord sustaining the lives of believers.
Let us be generous so that we have more and more in common. Let us be pursue holiness so that we can be impactful in mission. And, let us not lose perspective of the truly spectacular works that the Lord is working within us, and within those close to us. Let us testify!