Tuesday of the Second Week of Easter
The book of Acts is such a gift to the church because in it Luke tells us how to be the church after Easter—that is after Jesus’s earthly ministry has come to an end and he has formed the church through the gift of the Holy Spirit. In the passage before us today, we learn three important lessons about how to be the church.
Lesson 1: To be the church is to be of one heart and mind. That is a tall order these days when we are more divided in our political identifications than we have been in a very long time. And polling data indicates not only that are we more separated in our views, but that we also think of those with opposing views much more negatively than we used to. Since those divisions run right through the church—locally, nationally, globally—we know we’ve got a lot of work to do. But we don’t have the option not to do this work. And we can start by following Jesus’s teaching—to love our neighbor and even our enemy. Even those of the “other party.” If we can come to the shared conviction to love one another, no matter which party we identify with or where we are on the political spectrum, perhaps we will be of one heart and mind in the manner that matters the most.
Lesson 2: To be his church is to witness to our resurrected Lord. The Roman Empire wanted to teach Jesus’s followers a lesson—that the Empire could bring an end to his message of radical love by killing him. They had the power to do it, and they did it. But they were wrong. Death, violence, hatred, and fear did not and will not have the last word. By the gift of the Holy Spirit, Jesus’s ministry continues whenever we witness to his teachings by taking care of the poor, finding ways to bring those who are on the margins into the center, and loving our enemies. And when we do this, Luke tells us, we are a blessed church.
Lesson 3: To be the church we must share what we have so that no one among us is in need. To be sure, we stand a far greater chance of being of one heart and mind when no one among us suffers from need. This is another tall order given that we live in a culture that constantly tries to persuade us that our happiness depends on accumulating wealth and material possessions. And so, we must work hard to cultivate a greater desire to share than to hoard. One way we do that is by living in community and coming to know the needs of those in our community. When we see those needs up close we can better hear Jesus’s call for us to take care of the poor over the din of all manner of advertising and marketing messages that tell us to focus on ourselves.
Lord, we know that it has never been easy to be the church, and we know for sure that it isn’t easy today. So much in our culture pulls us in directions that divide us from one another when we are called to be of one heart and mind. May we resist the so-called wisdom of this world and love one another, take care of one another (especially those among us who are in need), and in doing this bear witness to your resurrection. Amen.
- Sue Trollinger