Monday, August 9, 2010

Caring for the Whole, Acts 2:44-47, Acts 4:32-37

Every day at Baobab Blast we had a different critter. Today’s critter is Wilma Wildebeest. She lives in a large herd. Some of her friends are Wilbur, Wally, Wanda, Juanita, Greg, Herbert, George, Gail, Glenda, Bob, and Francis. Wildebeests are also called “gnus.” They are actually more closely related to antelope than they are cows even though they are so big.
Wildebeests live in smaller groups of 30-500 for a good bit of their lives. But every year, they join the herd for the great migration. 1.5 million wildebeests gather together to cross Africa. Wildebeests often travel with herds of zebra. They live in groups to protect each other because they are a wonderful food source for lions, hyenas, and crocodiles. They get along well with zebra because they can help protect one another, and they don’t fight over food. Zebra eat tall grass, and wildebeests eat shorter grasses. Because of their ability to come together and act as one and because they get along and cooperate with those who are different from them, like traveling with the zebras, wildebeests teach us about unity. So today’s word is unity.
Our key verse is Eph. 4:3 Make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit…Repeat many times.
What is unity? Unity is oneness, agreeing together without division. When something is united, it doesn’t lack anything. When God’s people are united, they also lack nothing because Jesus made us into His body and the Holy Spirit has gifted each of us with different gifts. When we are unified, all those gifts are working like they are supposed to, so that with the Spirit in our lives and Christ as our head, we don’t need anything. God has provided it all.
Some of you visitors today belong to different churches. And we probably do some things differently than you so. And we don’t have services quite like this every Sunday either. I know there are some members here who are very glad we don’t have services like this every Sunday! But it’s okay that it’s different because there is still unity. It’s more important to celebrate Jesus and worship together. That’s what is important. One of the early church fathers, Origen, describes the unity we should have like a properly tuned stringed instrument. The strings are in harmony without discord. The strings aren’t the same. They are different lengths and have different pitches, but they are played to create beautiful music.
When people have Jesus in common, we should have unity. We’re not always good about that though. Sometimes we let things divide us. That’s why in our memory verse it says make every effort. Sometimes unity can be an effort. But when we think about Jesus first and others second, it makes it a lot easier. I heard someone say that’s what joy is. J-O-Y Jesus, others, you. Think of Jesus first, others second, and yourself last. Our memory verse says, make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit’s unity. If you try to think of others first without the Holy Spirit’s help, then you just get tired and grumpy or you start thinking about how great you are. It takes the Holy Spirit’s power to maintain unity.
The early church described in our Bible passages today did what our Bible verse tells us to do. They made every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit. They shared. That was our word on Friday. Not only did these believers share their faith with others, they also shared their things. It says they had all things in common. We had to share things this week--scissors, crayons and markers, glue, magnets. The Christians in our story this morning shared everything. Like Sam the Meerkat shares his house, these Christians shared their homes with others. They had each other over for dinner. They didn’t think of the things they had like they were their own. If they had something someone else needed, they gave it away or let them borrow it. They would even sell things they didn’t need and give the money to those who did need it. They understood stewardship. Stewardship is kind of a big word. But think of a very rich man or a king. The king has to travel far away to another country and will be gone a long time, so he appoints a steward. The steward takes care of the kings things. He lives in the palace and makes sure it is run right. He takes care of the king’s money. He takes care of everything. But even though the steward can use and manage anything the king has, those things still belong to the king. They don’t belong to the steward.
Well, Jesus is our King. He made everything. He lives in heaven now and has left His people to care for His things—we are called to care for each other, for God’s creation, and for everything. We need to recognize that even though we can use and manage lots of things, it all belongs to King Jesus, and some day Jesus will come back and take His throne on earth. Because these Christians we read about today understood this, it was easy for them to share and care for each other.
You know what else it takes to be that generous? Trust! Trust was our word on Monday. The king has to trust the steward to take care of his things. Jesus trusts us to take care of His things. Sometimes we break that trust and have to tell Jesus we’re sorry. But Jesus is so good, He forgives us and still gives us jobs to do for Him. We also have to trust each other. These early Christians had to trust each other that someone wouldn’t take advantage of someone else. Have you ever had someone use you? It doesn’t feel good at all. It makes you not want to trust not only that person but other people. It can take awhile to build trust again with the person who broke yours. We do need to forgive people who have broken our trust, and we should strive to be trustworthy people.
Sharing and caring for each other helps maintain unity. Unity involves caring for the whole. It takes trust, and of course lots of love. When we follow Jesus, He will fill us with His love that we can pass along to others. Unity pretty much sums up everything we talked about this week at Baobab Blast.
There are a lot of benefits to being unified. One is that God answers the prayers of those who are unified. If we are praying for something and yet carry a spirit of division in our hearts, it shouldn’t surprise us when God says, “No” to our prayers. We’ve already talked about not lacking anything when we are unified. Not only is everyone cared for, but God is pleased. In fact when we are unified, we imitate God—the three in one, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who are never divided. Unity also witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Professor F. Scott Spencer says, “From the start, the risen Jesus charged his witnesses to share the good news of his resurrection with the world. The resurrection forges new communities of light and life. Only in such fellowship (koinonia) is the meaning of the resurrection progressively discerned and demonstrated, learned and lived out.” So remember today’s key verse, Eph. 4:3, and, “Make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit.”


Blogger Pastor Parato said...

If this seems a little more elementary, it's because it was VBS celebration Sunday, and we had guest children. I had a Wildebeest slide show running in the background and passed out Wildebeest stickers. It was a fun day.

August 9, 2010 at 8:00 AM

Blogger Mar-see-ugh Sue-Flay said...

Not elementary at all - I liked it a lot!

August 9, 2010 at 3:01 PM


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