The more I meander around through the environs of the early church the more I stand in awe. Just to join up with that troop was truly transformational.
You've read this in Acts 4:33, 34: "And God's grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them" (NIV).
Please read that sentence carefully; the implications of it are astonishing.
I'm not making a case here for some kind of warped socialism. The New Testament is also clear that if (a capable believer) doesn't work, he shouldn't eat (see 2 Thess. 3:10-12). The last thing God wants His church to be is a bus full of freeloading hitchhikers. I'm simply exploring some of the things that happen when "grace [is] so powerfully at work."
When we ourselves are bathed in grace it changes how we feel. About everything and everybody. No one who carries a load escapes our notice. That's why a healthy church is such a sweet place.
Over time my errands cease to be the most important ones. What can I pick up for Mrs. Ellis on my way to the store? As I look for ways to be thoughtful, God brings ideas to my mind. When I spot a friend with a look of concern on his face, I may raise my heart in a simple, silent prayer — or even pose a gentle, non-intrusive question.
Here's the deal. We're born crying to have our needs met. Hungry, wet, cold, bored, sleepy — nobody is going to be happy till I'm happy. With some of us that doesn't go away easily. Until we are stoked with grace. But grace changes everything.
With God's grace is so powerfully at work in us, everything we see looks different. People are no longer obstacles in our way, or objects of judgment, they are folks God has given us to bless. When God shows us how much He loves us by the way He immerses us in grace, the greater our capacity to pass it along and demonstrate to others how much He loves them. When we're awash in grace we're a messenger, a carrier. When we catch it we can't wait to hand it off. When it becomes real to us I can't wait till I can help others rejoice in it, too.
Grace: His mercy I desperately need but don't deserve. Amazing grace. Grace that changed the church; and now changes the church. In fact, "God's grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them." None.
— Don Jacobsen writes a message each week as part of the Hope Heals 2017 NAD Prayer Initiate; this story is from the Nov. 17 email. His ministry partner and wife, Ruthie, is prayer coordinator for the North American Divison. Click here to subscribe to the weekly email message.