Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Giving From The Heart

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.  
~Acts 4:32-35

This passage in Acts speaks of people who truly "walk" their faith. It's quite timely that our pastor has been preaching out of this book recently, talking about this very subject. This passage and his sermons were all I could think about when I witnessed something I don't think I will forget anytime soon. It brought to life the idea of watching God's grace in action, and also reminded me how many Christians are swimming in shallow waters right now. In other words, they may know the right things to say, and they may look good, but when it comes to living their faith through action, it cannot be seen by others. Let me tell you about my experience.

Many know that my husband and I lead a support group for people who have a mental illness and their families. In many ways the group is pretty isolated.  People familiar with our group seem comfortable supporting the group from a distance, but don’t get involved in a more hands-on manner because of the population it serves and the stigma and controversy that surround that population. Presently, we have two members of the group who are moving into an assisted living apartment together.  This move is a wonderful thing, especially for our group member who has been living in a nursing home for over three years.  Her placement in that home was meant to be temporary until a suitable alternative was found.  She has been struggling ever since with the reality that her living situation did not meet her needs.

Both of these group members are disabled and do not have the financial means to buy needed supplies to furnish their new apartment. I sent out an email to people I thought I "knew" I could count on to help them out and some of them forwarded my email to even more people. Only one of those people responded with assistance. Two fellow members of our support group have also helped out.  I belong to a "swap and shop" group on Facebook where people take almost anything and everything they are not using and sell it. I thought it wouldn't hurt posting what we needed just to see what happened. I didn't really expect any response but what a surprise I got! Within an hour I had two thirds of the list covered, and it looks like we will get almost everything taken care through the generosity of people in this group.

I don't know these people.  I have never met them and neither have the group members they are helping. Most likely the people who frequent this page do not have a lot of money, otherwise they would not be selling their possessions.  But what is wonderful is that they are willing to give from what little they do have out of the goodness of their hearts. It truly amazes me that people who had less and were virtual strangers were so fast to offer help and people who had more and knew us ignored our request. 

The passage above provides a dreamlike vision of how we should lead our lives. It makes me ashamed sometimes to see how self-centered so many people have become. Recognizing this human frailty makes me think hard about who I want to be, and about how that passage in Acts provides a roadmap for the generosity that Christ wants us to show to everyone; not just those we are more comfortable with or favor, but to all. After all didn’t Jesus say that to turn anyone away would be like turning Him away? Maybe we all need a similar lesson in sharing, and a willingness to make "acts" of kindness a regular part of our own walk with Christ.