02 Sep Words of Grace – Something Bigger Than Ourselves
No one would argue that we are not “selves,” with possibilities and responsibilities. The Christian message affirms that we are individuals, accountable to God and called to follow Christ as such. As Christians, our new aim in life is to bring glory to God. This is our motivation for taking care of ourselves with food and clothing, physical protection, education, and income. We pursue relationships and work that give us a sense of fulfillment. We conduct ourselves appropriately when we interact with other people.
But being responsible selves is a much different thing than being locked into “self.” Our human inclination is to be selfish. Selfishness is being all about “self.” And that is a small world to live in. Nothing could be less interesting than the continual plodding around inside our own selves. Never leaving the narrow confines of self-interest restricts our humanness and limits our joy. There is irony here. The most appealing place to live is in our own world, but we soon realize it’s a prison.
We need something bigger than ourselves to be taken up into. We need a big story in which to find ourselves, a big purpose to motivate us, a big plan to pursue.
When Jesus said to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow him, he was calling us out of the small world of selfishness and into the bigger world of the kingdom of God. There is irony here, too. The most unappealing thing to do is to die to self, but doing so is a release from smallness and leads to a resurrection.
The Book of Acts is a call out of smallness and into the bigger world of God’s kingdom work. In Acts, individuals respond to Christ by faith and are gathered into the church. The church is caught up in the work of God’s Spirit to extend the kingdom to the world. The whole plan of God for the world is laid out most clearly in the book of Acts. The gospel of the King and the kingdom goes to the end of the earth. The message of Acts is our salvation from smallness.
This Sunday at Grace we will take up the book of Acts and see God in action. Acts will take a while to read, but I encourage you to do so this weekend. It will be worth it.
Join me in prayer for the churches of Nashville. Let’s pray for the message of Jesus to reach to all the nations living in our city.