May 16, 2022
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:
“In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day He was taken up to Heaven. This He did after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles [formerly disciples] He had chosen.” (Acts 1. 1-2)
“When the day of Pentecost came, they (the 12 apostles) were all gathered together in one place.” (Acts 2.1)
It is my belief and understanding that the Covid-19 Pandemic, whether contrived by nature or human or Enemy of God, has shown us the weakness in the “normalcy” of life we were living. The brokenness of systems and relationships and communities was propped up under the guise of humanity’s view and use of science, self-religion and created images. They served as a band-aid which did not protect the woundedness of the world from the world so healing could be effected. They were the infection which was prospering under the “band-aid” called freedom without authentic accountability. How can there be true accountability if we are only accountable to ourselves? We see the danger in that kind of thinking whether at a personal level, family level, community level, national level, global level and as we expand our reach to a universal level. If there is no one or nothing greater than “ourselves,” then we become the self-determining factor of what is truth, what is true and what is real life. Even sayings such as “the good life” and “the good old days” simply mask the fallacy of human-oriented living. When “good” is determined to be only what is good for me and thus should be “good for others,” then the failure of “what is good” becomes apparent as it isn’t good for all unless they are like “me.” The growing crime rate during this pandemic and, I dare say, because of this pandemic, is evidence of the narrowness and the danger of this thinking.
It is into this worldview, not a new one mind you, that the gospel was injected by God through Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ and Messiah of God for the world. As Paul said to Timothy, “We must pray for others, for our leaders and rulers. We must pray that they will come to know the truth which is God’s desire to save them all from the throes of sin.” (1 Timothy 2.4) This does not deny the need to pray for their health, wellness, worldly provision, peace and prosperity. But, if there is no sense of salvation which is ordered by the promise of eternal life in spiritual health, wellness, kingdom provision, peace and prosperity, then what hope is there in them? Our hope, mighty ones of God, is in Christ and Christ alone. The gospel of Jesus as the Christ was injected into our sin-fected world. It removes the band-aids that conceal the festering of futile self-will for self in its denial of God’s will for all be done. It tears down the walls of coventional wisdom erected to divert our gaze because they cannot cause us to turn a blind eye. Out of sight, out of mind, perhaps. But, if pressed, we will admit that we see it but choose not to look upon it. It challenges the “wisdom of people” flaunted by their desire to be seen as authoritative with the “wisdom of God” which humbles us, willingly or not, to know that nothing exists apart from or beyond God’s rule of truth and love.
And for Luke, it is equally important to report and record for history’s sake and the sake of the people in this world the injection of the response to the gospel into our consciousness. Let’s say it this way for the sake of dialogue: the GOSPEL is “faith” and the CHURCH is “faith in action.” I do not mean that we have faith IN action. We are not saved by works or even good intentions. Our best intentions may never even be enacted, merely considered. But, when we put our faith in God, the works aligned with that faith cooperate and collaborate for the “good which God has intended to do and intended for us to do.” Luke shares with Theophilus His, Jesus, desire for the disciples to become apostles to train more disciples who will be apostles for the next generation and so on and so forth. He instructs them again following His resurrection so that they can more clearly see and put ownership on the truth about right relationships of body, mind and soul with God first, with each other second and then with the world. And then He does a most extraordinary gifting of hope and purpose. He makes room in them for His Spirit to dwell. This is not an auto-pilot program or some kind of automaton robotic experience. He is adding to and increasing their existence and understanding of their existence with His own. His name, as declared in the gospels, is Immanuel- God with us. At Pentecost, that God with us becomes God in us. It is not merely the breathing in of life as happened when God made Adam and Eve. They, and we as we are conceived, are filled with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that gives us earthly life. I believe this is what is meant when scripture reveals “Before you were born, before you were in your mother’s womb, I knew you.” But, as followers of Jesus Christ, we are not merely earth-dwellers and worldly people. We are now, by our choice to receive God’s choice, made kingdom people. We know all too well what it means to live in this world by being of this world. We are born into a world that is sin-fected and its stain is on us and in us and sadly through us to others. But, when we walk by faith and not by sight alone, then that stain is being meticulously washed away and the authentic us is born. When is received is the Spirit of the resurrected Lord who has proven by faith this world is not our ruler. This world does not define us because we are not intended to be broken people. Jesus’ departure in the body from the presence of His friends and enemies reveals the true emptiness which challenges us to see we are not whole. It is the process of sanctification, being made holy. And we cannot be holy unless we are one in God and one with God in the name of Jesus Christ who by the Holy Spirit proves us worthy and valuable and of great purpose.
Mighty ones of God, this is what we are called to live for, live by and to live with.
TODAY’S PRAYER: Father God, who through Your Son has brought the truth of our salvation to bear in our lives, we give You thanks. We give You our heart, mind, body and soul. They belong to You anyway because You conceived them, created them, empowered them and call them Your own. We are Your people, the sheep of Your pasture, sent out to shepherd a herd of lost people so they may be found, restored and revived in their meaning and purpose for life eternal. Bless us today with the boldness to declare both faith and faith in action. We ask this in the name of Jesus our Lord who was and is and will always be our Savior and our Friend. AMEN.