“More Stories of Hope, not Guns, Please.” Since that time there seems to be more terror. There seems to be increased tension between communities and the police. People even daring to use the phrase “civil war.”
Why do we seem to focus so much more on the violence and the hate? I often wonder why we do not share the stories of love, service and forgiveness. These are the stories we should focus on.
Do they not exist? Are they not there?
I believe they exist. In fact, I think on a day in and day out basis if we gathered all of the stories, the “good” stories would outweigh the “bad” ones. I hope that is not me just being wishful thinking. I do not think it is.
There is violence. There is hate. I do not deny they exist. There is love. Christ’s love has the power to transform and make new. This is one of the reasons we seek to “Connect People to Christ’s Love” here at Barnitz and Mt. Zion.
In Acts 7, we see Saul overseeing and approving the stoning of Stephen, a follower of Jesus Christ. Saul is later confronted by Jesus and learns of Christ’s love for him in a powerful way. It completely changes him.
26 When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him. They didn’t believe he was really a disciple. 27 Then Barnabas brought Saul to the apostles and told them the story about how Saul saw the Lord on the way and that the Lord had spoken to Saul. He also told them about the confidence with which Saul had preached in the name of Jesus in Damascus. 28 After this, Saul moved freely among the disciples in Jerusalem and was speaking with confidence in the name of the Lord. (Acts 9)
The disciples go from being afraid of Saul to accepting him. Why? Because the love of Christ changed Saul. Saul would later change his name to Paul, and write these words:
6 While we were still weak, at the right moment, Christ died for ungodly people. 7 It isn’t often that someone will die for a righteous person, though maybe someone might dare to die for a good person. 8 But God shows his love for us, because while we were still sinners Christ died for us. 9 So, now that we have been made righteous by his blood, we can be even more certain that we will be saved from God’s wrath through him. 10 If we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son while we were still enemies, now that we have been reconciled, how much more certain is it that we will be saved by his life? (Romans 5)
Christ’s love is powerful. It does not always change people or circumstances overnight. A lot of times it seems to work in and through people’s lives, little by little.
My story of hope this morning is that we have experienced a little of this throughout our summer series. So far in #hollyacts, we have sought to love our community, or more specifically, BLESS our community, reminding us to love by:
Being devoted in prayer, praying for our community.
Listening to the people in our community. Let someone know they have been heard.
Engaging, connecting with the people in our community, people we may not yet know.
Serving, generously giving to one another.
Supporting and encouraging one another.
It is a great thing to be connected to a community that is seeking to truly love and BLESS one another.
(All scripture cited above from Common English Bible Copyright © 2011)