Monday, November 23, 2015

Fellowship of the Believers

I've always been drawn to Acts 2:42-47. In those 6 short verses this beautiful unity and community is put on display. Men and women are whole-heartily devoted to the gospel, serving one another, living communally, praising God. I long for this today; and I believe we CAN have it.

Over the next two months, we (as the people of God) have an incredibly unique opportunity to live those verses out with one another- and those who don't know Christ. While the holiday season is full of laughter, joy, and cheer- it also holds stark reminders of grief, pain, loneliness, and loss.
  • Missionaries are some of the most forgotten about during the Thanksgiving/Christmas season. Just because they've followed the Lord in a very specific call, it does not mean it's without sacrifice and loss. It's hard. Despite the Lord's grace, strength, and provision, the loneliness and sadness is real. Get the email addresses of missionaries you or your church supports. Email them (check their time zone!) several times the next few weeks. Skype them! It's not too late to put a Christmas card in the mail! They love that you're praying for them, but they want to hear from you; they want to hear about your families and pray for you too. Remember them.
  • Any time there has been a death in the family (whether that's the loss of a child due to miscarriage or a grandmother of 95 years old) the pain is felt in a different way during the holidays. One of the greatest gifts you can give to friends or family who are experiencing this is your presence and your love. Hear their stories. Cry with them. Put Romans 12:15 into practice. I have several friends who have lost one or both of their parents; holidays for them are very difficult. Open your home. Make your family their family. Love selflessly and without reserve.
  • Singleness and infertility create unique struggles during the holidays that you don't understand unless you've been there. There's a very real grief and loss over something that you never actually had; and trying to articulate that is confusing. In your celebration of love with your spouse and children, remember (and be tender towards) those who desire that very thing but don't have it. That void is going to feel very real during this season. Remind them of the family, friendship, and love found in the body of Christ; remind them of the One who does fill any and every void, with His hope, love, and joy.
  • The fact that refugees are all around us right now is of no surprise. It's not just with the Syrian refugee crisis that this has begun; it's been before that. Realize they are the "least of these," as are the orphans, widows, homeless in your cities. In your communities, search for ways you can give of your time and resources, and serve them this holiday season. Just as you've been given an abundance, give to them. They are hurting, lonely, scared, hungry, grieving, sad, and at times, feel hopeless. Share the love of Christ with them, and give them a reason to hope.
These are just a few ways to put into practice the entire reason we, as followers of Christ, say we celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas. We are thankful because of what we've been given. We have been given the greatest gift in the atoning work of Jesus. We celebrate His birth because it meant the Savior, God the Son, had come; the Savior who would live a sinless life, to die a tragic death, to raise triumphantly from the grave, to sit next to God the Father in heaven, where He rules and reigns until the day He returns. For those of us who are His people, we were given the Holy Spirit to help us as we wait. It's the Spirit in us that enables us to look at holiday traditions and make them mean something. So, let's do that. Let's make this year mean something; let's look beyond ourselves and our circumstances- and look to others. Love as He loved, give as He gave, serve as He served.

Christmas means Jesus came down and got involved in suffering. He hears your cries.
-Tim Keller-