No one is completely independent

“Me do it meself.”

That was my mantra as a child, and not much has changed now that I’m a grown-up. It’s certainly not bad to want to be independent. Actually, that’s pretty much the American dream. But you have to draw some realistic boundaries. No one is completely independent.

People need each other. Even if you’re the most antisocial person in the world, you still need other people in your life. Maybe we don’t all need the same people, but you can’t live life on your own. Sometimes you need help.

woman-cliff-balance-yogaToday’s verses are Acts 6:1-4.

But as the believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent. The Greek-speaking believers complained about the Hebrew-speaking believers, saying that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. They said, “We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program. And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility. Then we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word.” 

This is a story from the early days of the Church. The way it worked back then was very much community-focused. The members of the early Church shared everything, and as the Church grew and more and more people became Christ-followers, the Church founders (the 12 Disciples) had more and more work to do. It got to the point where they were so overwhelmed with everyday tasks that they couldn’t focus on what they’d been called to do.

Prioritizing is a struggle for me. It’s hard for me to narrow down what I’m supposed to be doing on a daily basis because I want to do so many things, but just because I want to do a good thing doesn’t make that good thing a necessity. Yes, it’s a good thing. Yes, I’ll be blessed if I do it. Yes, it’s something God’s commanded us to do. But now may not be the right time for me to do that thing.

And honestly? I may not even be the best person for the job anyway. God may want me to have the humility to accept that I can’t do everything and let someone else have the blessing of that task graciously.

The early Church did it. It wasn’t that distributing food to people wasn’t important. It’s hugely important. But the Church Leaders had other things to focus on. God had called them to a certain job, and they didn’t have the capacity to do that job and another job at the same time. So they chose other leaders within the Church and asked them for help. And God was perfectly pleased with that. He blessed the Church Leaders, and He blessed the seven new folks who were running the food program. The same is true in our own lives.

What has God called you to do? That’s the question, isn’t it? It’s a difficult answer to find, but God will tell you what He wants. You just have to ask. And then you have to listen. And then you have to do it, regardless of what anyone else around you thinks. Do that one thing. And, sure, if you have time to let other things in, do those too, but don’t let the little stuff take away from that one big thing you’re supposed to be doing. And when the little things get too big, give them to someone else. Let them go. Because you can’t do both.

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Grace for your heroes

Who is your hero? Don’t think about it too long. Who’s the first person that comes to mind? A teacher? A mentor? A parent or grandparent? We all have heroes. Some are older than us. Some are even younger than us. Others are our same age. And even though we know they are “only human” we still elevate them because to us, they’re larger than life. It’s not that we put them on a pedestal (though some of us do), it’s just that we have such high expectations for them.

So what happens when your hero falls? What happens when your hero makes a judgment call that hurts someone else? What happens when your hero sins?

Does it shake your world? Does it rock your faith? Or do you deny it and stand with them regardless of the truth? You know what I’m talking about. You exclaim that the stories can’t be true. You insist that your hero can’t have done anything wrong. How could they? They’re heroes. They know better. They know people are looking up to them, following them. They wouldn’t have made such a horrible choice. They couldn’t have.

I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but everyone fails. Even your heroes.

8ZB9C03AIJToday’s verses are Romans 3:10-20.

As the Scriptures say,
“No one is righteous—
not even one.
No one is truly wise;
no one is seeking God.
All have turned away;
all have become useless.
No one does good,
not a single one.
Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave.
Their tongues are filled with lies.
Snake venom drips from their lips.
Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.
They rush to commit murder.
Destruction and misery always follow them.
They don’t know where to find peace.
They have no fear of God at all.”
Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.

The truth about following Christ is that everyone needs grace, from the worst of us to the best of us. No one is perfect. We know that, but knowing it and living it are two separate things.

It’s really, really easy to fixate on the “good” Christians, the ones who know the Bible, the ones who talk to God, the ones who have the answers. They’re the people we go to when we have questions. They’re the ones we ask when we’re afraid or uncertain or when our faith is faltering. And in our minds we think there’s absolutely no way that they would ever turn against God. They would never disobey. They would never do anything God says is wrong.

No one is righteous means that no one always does the right thing. Does that mean you shouldn’t trust anyone? Does that mean you shouldn’t build relationships with people? No, that’s not what it means at all.

It means that even your heroes need grace. They need the same grace from you that Christ offered to them.

Not excuses. Grace has nothing to do with making excuses. Grace doesn’t live in denial either. Grace recognizes that you’ve screwed up royally yet doesn’t hold it against you.

It’s good to have heroes. It’s good to have people in your life to run to when you’re scared or feeling vulnerable. Just remember that people are people. Don’t put your trust in people. Don’t build your foundation on any person other than Jesus Christ. Because He is the righteous one, and He doesn’t change.