Enough To Share

Over the weekend, we turned the calendar from January to February, which means that the single most polarizing “holiday” of the year- Valentine’s Day- is right around the corner.  Regardless of your current thoughts on this day (Single’s Awareness Day, anyone?), if you’re like me, there is some lingering childhood nostalgia surrounding the celebration.

I’m not sure how this worked when and where you went to school, but at my elementary school, each year Valentine’s Day meant one thing, and one thing only- The opportunity to score some free candy.  This candy was typically attached to the little children’s character cards, complete with some bland, generic Valentine’s Day message that I generally ignored in favor of the real loot.  In any case, each year everyone in the class would bring their stash and distribute them to everyone else, resulting in mass amounts of sugar consumption for the remainder of the day.

As glorious as this celebration was, there was always one risk associated with it- What if someone didn’t bring enough to share?  What if someone’s uninformed parent assumed there were 25 students in the class, when in reality there were 27?  And what if you were number 26, and missed out on those rockin’ Ninja Turtles Valentine’s and Jolly Rancher lollipops that were going out to everyone else?  This was a devastating scenario.  Perhaps even worse was when you were the kid coming up short, and thus subject to the scornful glances of your second grade classmates.  It was essential that this situation be avoided at all costs.

But let me know throw another, different scenario at you- What if your parents packed you plenty of cards and candy- the good stuff too!- but instead of distributing them to everyone like a good citizen, you kept them stashed away in your backpack, solely for yourself, and lied to everyone about it?  That’s not regret; it’s outright neglect.  And not only were your classmates deprived in this circumstance of the good gift that you had to give, you also cast doubt as to the character and goodness of your parents, which “didn’t give you enough to share” with anyone else.

As childish as this example might be (literally!), I believe it is a strikingly accurate picture of that which we as Christ followers often do with the “good gift” which God the Father has given to us- namely, the Gospel of Jesus.  God has given it to us by grace, so that we might share it with the world in which He has placed us for His purposes.  Too often, though, we keep it hidden, “stashed away” for ourselves only, and tell the world- whether blatantly or simply by silence- that we don’t have anything to give them.

I’m convinced that we do this for a broad variety of reasons.  Perhaps we devalue the gift or are somehow embarrassed by it, as though our Father is sending us out with the equivalent of Care Bears Valentines and butterscotch.  Perhaps we’re fearful of trying to give it away and somehow “failing,” being rejected and mistreated by others.  Or perhaps, most maliciously, we simply don’t want to give it to anyone else, believing that they aren’t “worthy” of receiving it and that we are somehow better or more deserving of it than they are.  Whatever the reason, the reality is that we’ve been given something of supreme value, with clear instructions to give it away to everyone that we can.  And when we fail to do that, others miss out, and God is seen as less glorious and gracious than He truly is.

What would it look like for this to change in your life, starting today?  I believe the first step is to have your heart and mine recaptured by the wonder of grace, the soul shaking reality that God loves us and accept us in Christ despite the mess of sin that riddles our hearts.  When you begin to see and consider afresh what He has done in you, you’ll find the motivation to share it with others.  No one will have to convince you to give it away; it will simply become the natural overflow of your heart and life.  God has given you and I more than enough to share with the world.  Let’s distribute it this week in joy, in love, and in expectation that God is going to use it to do for others exactly what He has for us.

rePRESENT

God is ABLE to make ALL things NEW, including YOU.

I have enjoyed preaching this truth over the last month.  Faith is trusting in an able God.  We all need renewal.  The questions is, “Do you believe that God can make YOU  new?  And then do you believe he can make your situation NEW?  I hope so.

Check out 2 Corinthians 5:16-6:13.

Those who are renewed in Christ represent Christ.

This is not something you could do or should do if you are “in Christ.”  This is something you are doing if you are a “new creation.”  You represent Christ everywhere you go and with every word you say and with every thing you do.  You ARE an AMBASSADOR of Christ.

This is not a burden; it is a privilege.  God has chosen to make his appeal through you.  You are his ambassador and He has given you a ministry of reconciliation.  This ministry of reconciliation begins with the reality of reconciliation.

First, we must be reconciled to God through Christ.
Second, we must be reconciled to others through Christ.

Reconciliation is an accounting term.  It means to put an account that is in wrong standing in right standing.  God does the reconciling.  (He is reconciling the world to Himself.)  He makes the account right by “not counting our sins against us” because he counted them against His son, Jesus Christ. (God made him who knew no sin to become sin so we might become the righteousness of God.)

We, who are in Christ, have been given a ministry of reconciliation.  Literally the word means a distribution of reconciliation.  We have the privilege of distributing out the truth that God is reconciling the world to Himself.  Todd Blount (our South Ascension Campus Pastor) has written a great blog about this concept of distribution that will post later this week, so please watch for it at blog.fellowshipchurch.cc

We, however, cannot have a ministry of reconciliation without a heart for reconciliation.  God has already paid the price emotionally, physically, and spiritually for reconciliation to exist between he and every person on Earth. Now this transaction will not take place until the debtor (sinner…every person in the world) repents and confesses Jesus as Lord.  But the price is paid and the accounting is ready.

We must live in the same standing toward others. There can be no offer of reconciliation if there does not already exist the ability for reconciliation.  We must live in a spiritual and relational position towards others that forgiveness is available, even before they ask for it.

Paul speaks of his open heart in this passage..  An open heart is one that is vulnerable and given.  We must give all of ourselves to God realizing he might make new in you the very thing you desire to never see change.  Never guard your heart from God.

Our heart for people must be as open as God’s.  The very people you rant about in life, he desires to reconcile their life.  He desires that none should perish but that all would come to repentance.  Not all will, but he is ready for all.  Are you?

People are not in need of your ranting.  They are in need of Christ’s reconciling.

He has already done every work and paid every price necessary so that we might be reconciled.  He is ready.  More than that…he is active…he came to seek and to save what was lost.  Will you join him in that ministry of reconciliation?

Be renewed!