A few years ago, I tried to get my congregation excited about an emphasis that we called “Acts of Blessing.” When individuals and groups within the church took advantage of opportunities that God had provided to serve and bless others, they were asked to share the outcome of such ministry through a simple reporting system so that others would be encouraged to attempt ministries of their own and so that we could celebrate together the ways that God was working among us.
It died pretty quickly.
For the most part, I blame myself for that failure. I didn’t interpret the goal of the emphasis clearly enough. I didn’t promote the emphasis consistently over time. I didn’t enlist the aid of “influencers” in the congregation who could “talk up” the idea and encourage others to participate.
But I also ran into a dynamic that I didn’t anticipate. People were just flat-out reluctant to talk about the ways that God was at work in and through their lives.
At one level, of course, that’s a good thing. It shows an appropriate humility and an admirable hesitancy to call attention to oneself. In addition, it reflects the reality that people are busy; and even when “acts of blessing” are shared, the thought of “reporting” on such activity can easily slip one’s mind. But looked at in another way, I can’t help but wonder if this silence about God’s activity in our lives reflects a lack of awareness about an essential reality: It’s not just about God’s work in you. It’s about God’s work in us.
The Bible makes it pretty clear that “we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” (Romans 12:5) We need each other – not just to encourage and challenge and forgive and love one another – but also to awaken each other to the things that God is doing and can do among us. We need to be constantly sharing the good news – and not just in the sense of telling “outsiders” about the saving love of Jesus – but also in the sense of telling “insiders” about the goodness of God, which continues to be active in the assembly of His people.
In one of today’s readings from the Daily Office, the psalmist declares:
“I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly;
I do not seal my lips, LORD,
as you know.
I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help.
I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness
from the great assembly.” (Psalm 40:9-10)
In this wonderful adventure that we call life in Christ, there is some “assembly” required. How do you need to proclaim God’s saving acts to that assembly today? What examples of His righteousness, faithfulness and love do you need to stop concealing and start declaring?
Let’s be eager to “gospel” one another, so that the embrace of God’s kingdom can continue to expand within us, among us, and beyond us.