By, Isam Itson III
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching,” Acts 2:42.
In her last years before her death my 105 year old granny always told me, “God has been so good to me with everyone and everything he has given me. But whatever Jesus puts in your hand son, you have to open your hand and help somebody.” Everything and everyone that I think of as belonging to me, even my own life, actually belongs to God, and I am responsible to God for what I do in relationship with them. Whatever God has put in your hand is enough to fulfill God’s purpose for our lives as humans made in his image and redeemed through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. That’s what Granny taught me. What did the apostles teach? What Jesus taught them.
What had Jesus taught them? Matthew 5:43-45, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
In Luke 10:25-37 Jesus said all of the law and the prophets, was summarized in two commands. The greatest is loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and the second greatest is loving our neighbor as our self. When Jesus was questioned about who qualifies as our neighbor he replied with the story of the Good Samaritan. Our neighbor is the person that we know looks at us like we are disgusting. Not only that, but we know that they know that we know, they think we are disgusting. And, we know that everyone else knows, they think we are disgusting. So going above and beyond for their benefit makes us look like weak fools. That person is someone Jesus says I should love in the same way I love myself, which honors God’s love and purpose for me and for them.
Loving and forgiving others without reservation, at our own expense, no matter the social, material, or physical cost. All the while trusting God with our own lives as well as the lives of our loved ones. Even until death on a cross – a public display of one’s absolute powerlessness compared to Roman authority. This is the essence of the teaching of Jesus Christ and the heart of our faithful response to the Gospel. Submitting ourselves to God and each other in this way is the foundation of our proclamation of the Gospel and our favor among the people. Anything less leads to the defamation of Jesus Christ and the Church among the members of our local communities and our societies at large. Granny would agree.
1. What resources are you holding onto so tightly for the sake of security, that you’re unable to help others with them?
2. To what lengths would you go to provide for your neighbor? What are your limitations?