On a warm Autumn day I opened my front door to sunlight streaming in and three beautiful women laden with baking, meals and gifts plus steaming hot coffee standing outside. Ahhh food for the body and nourishment for the soul for this mother with her newborn!
We’re called to be a light to the world around us. We’re called to represent Jesus wherever we go. Sometimes that means sharing the Gospel through words. Sometimes that means taking the hands of a person in need and praying for them. And sometimes that means turning up on a doorstep with the light of Christ in your heart shining through and gifts for the soul.
There’s a movement happening around New Zealand at the moment. It’s called “Love this city”. It involves people going round and love bombing random strangers with gifts and kind words. For many it is the only encouragement in an otherwise hard day, it is the seed of hope, the strength to keep going. It is the light, the love of Christ, no strings attached, no agenda except to express the love of God.
One recipient of being love bombed wrote this “I am currently six months pregnant, alone with the father not around anymore…my silent prayers have finally been answered … and live knowing that at least someone out there loves me.”
This world is looking for, crying out for demonstrations of the love of God for them. Practical demonstrations of the love and power of God. Did not Jesus walk this earth healing the sick, feeding the hungry, encouraging the hurting and the rejected?
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
Fairy Tales seem to be enjoying a bit of a renaissance at the moment. Well certainly for the adults that is. Fairy Tales for children have always been in vogue. But over the last couple of years, fairy tale after fairy tale have been retold in a movie. From Snow White and the Huntsman, to Maleficent and now Cinderella, the classic fairy tales all undergo a revamp to appeal to the “grownups”.
Essentially though, the story remains the same. To quote Miss Prism from “The Importance of being earnest”, “The good ended happily and the bad unhappily.” There can be no messing with the end of Fairy Tales. The Princess ends up with the Prince. The Kingdom restored to former glory and well the bad guys….it ends badly for them.
It seems that the beauty and magic of a Fairy Tale never grows old. Heroes, Heroines, great feats and acts of love and courage, a bad guy to conqueror are the key ingredients. Ingredients for a great story. But fiction, a tale nonetheless.
Yet here I am, living right in the middle of my Fairy Tale. Living in the reality of a true story. The ingredients are all there. Heroes, great feats and acts of love and courage. But I’m not wearing a tiara (I wish!) , I don’t have glass slippers or a ball to attend, but I’m a star in this story. I’m one that a King pursues and saves.
Yes, I am a part of the greatest love story ever, as are you! The true story of a God for His people. And across the ages, we see time and time again His intent and love for us. The rescues, the healings, the miracles. We see a God, a King, so kind, so good, so loving that He would construct the best rescue plan possible to rescue His Bride. He would send His Son from Heaven into Earth undercover as a baby, to ensure that we could get home to Heaven.
The twist in this story is that the plan includes the sacrifice of His Son – Jesus for us. That Jesus would die for us. And while this would turn most Fairy Tales into a tragedy more like a Shakespearean play, it does not end there. Jesus rises again, victorious and having conquered sin and death, and we are free. Free now to be partakers of His inheritance. Free to live a life of peace, of hope, of love through the grace of Jesus.
Free to live Happily Ever After.
As I write, my oldest son is tucked up in bed with chicken pox. He told me he had it yesterday and ever the sympathetic mother I didn’t believe him, I needed proof! Of course he had some insider knowledge at that point, that it had been going round his class. 12 hours later the proof manifested and said child is now home from school for the next week. Holiday plans now feel rather tenuous to say the least, given his brothers have now also been exposed to the infection.
So why am I writing about chicken pox especially when I am no medical practitioner and have no new news on how to deal with chicken pox (if you have though, feel free to let me know!)? I write because as with most things that come unexpectedly across my path, it makes me think! It made me think of how quickly infectious diseases can spread from person to person, household to household, town to town and therefore make a significant impact. It challenged me as to whether I could be a contagious Christian and spread the Gospel of the Good News as effectively as it seems Chicken Pox has spread through my son’s classroom.
Are we contagious as Christians? Do we radiate the presence of God around us? The resurrection power of our Lord Jesus can manifest through us to touch others. We can shift the atmosphere around us – where we work, when we are with friends and family, when we are out and about. As with the Apostle Peter – he radiated the glory of God so much that people were healed through his shadow alone! I’d say that’s being amazingly contagious for Jesus!
“People brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some them as he passed by.” (Acts 5:15)
If I really believe that the Spirit of God radiates from me, then the closer I get to others, the more they will feel Him. What if God purposefully placed me in the situations I face for something other than what I am expecting? If I focus only on my own issues, I will miss the purpose and the intentions of God that are higher and greater than mine.
So I’m challenged today on two fronts, one – to help my son get through the chicken pox with minimum discomfort and two – to pray that I might be more contagious in my faith.
GOSSIP – A person who habitually reveals personal or sensational facts about others.
Somehow, despite the lack of social media, internet, phones even, from the Day of Pentecost, the Early Church spread quickly throughout the Roman Empire and beyond. The Early Church was dynamic, crossing cultural borders with ease. It spread across water, across language barriers with ease. A small movement from the corner of Palestine by the 4th Century was a prominent part of Society.
Historians often use the phrase “gossiping the Gospel” to explain how the Early Christians witnessed their faith. Given that during the first 3 centuries of the Church, the Christians were persecuted harshly and driven underground for much of the time, this witnessing is even more admirable.
“This must often have been not formal preaching, but the informal chattering to friends and chance acquaintances, in homes and wine shops, on walks, and around market stalls. They were everywhere gossiping the gospel; they did it naturally, enthusiastically, and with the conviction of those who are not paid to say that sort of thing. Consequently, they were taken seriously, and the movement spread” (Evangelism in the Early Church).
The Early Church really laid down the gauntlet for us. Without the aid of technology and often at the risk of their lives, they could not hide the Gospel from their neighbours. Today, can we do the same?
Gossiping the Gospel is only possible if our faith goes beyond our words. The Good news must be thoroughly a part of our lives if we can hope that people will pay attention to our talk. Peter and John said in Acts 4:20 that “We cannot but speak the things we have heard and seen.” In this lies the key. It wasn’t just mere words. They were gossiping about the transformational power and miracles that they had seen. The gossip was about their personal transformations, the many miracles and healings that were reported, and even the witness of the martyrs as they were killed.
From the comfort of my 21st Century life, with the many tools at my fingertips (literally!) for communicating, and without the risk of persecution, I am challenged, provoked even, to be a better gossiper of the Gospel.