Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
God’s Greater Version for HumanityActs 26: 24-32
“Paul replied, “Short time or long—I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.” (Acts 26: 29)
Acts 26 details Paul’s confrontation with King Agrippa, a man whose forefathers martyred or attempted to martyr influential Christian figures. Despite the confusion that many of the political leaders whom Paul spoke before felt in seeing an unconvicted man appeal to Rome’s highest authority, Caesar, Paul recognized God’s divine purpose for him to spread the Gospel to those in power. Paul sought for Agrippa to see the same light that opened his eyes in Damascus that called him to live a life surrendered to God.
It is easy for Christians to stay in the comfort and repetitiveness that may come with just going to church and praying at home. However, God calls us to do more.
1. God calls us to be his “special people.” - "I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great, and you shall be a blessing [to the world]… in you, all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Genesis 12:2–3)
In making this promise to Abraham, God assures us that his plan for humankind has a global impact. Paul realized that by speaking to officials, he would be able to share the Word of God at a greater scale than he would by just staying within the Jewish or Gentile communities. Thus, we are called to not only share his word within our own communities but also with people completely different from ourselves.
2. God calls us to higher righteousness. - For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:20)
Christian righteousness is greater than Pharisaic righteousness; it demands the complete obedience of the heart. Paul realized that by denying Jesus Christ as God, he was denying the God of his forefathers; thus, he realized he needed to transform his life to not minister to his own intentions but rather that of God. Christ guides us to distinguish ourselves as righteous members of his kingdom who do not rely on passive worship to glorify his name, but through our deliberate actions of love and mercy to those around us. He asks us to be right even when only God sees our good deeds.
3. God calls us to be the salt and light of the world. - “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. 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 5:13-16)
The common household items of salt and light are used to exemplify the importance of Christians in non-Christian societies. Just as salt prevents any decay or corruption of food products, we, as disciples, are called to lead a pure life and hold back the corruption of the world; yet, many of us seem to shy away. Just as light is used to brighten a room, we are called to guide others in a Christian manner; yet, we tend to hide behind the veil of indifference. Salt and light are only effective only when they change the environment they are in. In the same way, Paul used his voice and environment to serve Christ, let us dispel the darkness around us with our light and decrease the decay of social morality with our salt.
Christ calls us to be a part of his ministry, a never-ending commitment to share God’s love. Whether it be being a priest, a civil servant, an educator, or any other profession, there is a need for Christians to be integrated into all parts of society and fulfill a life committed to Christ. Let us turn away from our half-heartedness in worship and humbly offer ourselves to God to actively shine our light for others and contribute to God’s mission of nation-building.
Dear God, Let us all have the courage and discernment to be true disciples of Christ and carry out our mission, even when the situation is difficult. Amen.
Thought for the Day
God calls us to be active members of his kingdom, not passive.
, Epiphany Mar Thoma Church, New York