There are people around the world every single day who receive great blessings from God without ever asking for them. These people don’t pray. And they don’t give God thanks when they receive these great blessings. The fact is, they enjoy the benefits of these wonderful gifts and never acknowledge the Giver.
“He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” ~Matthew 5:45
We joke sometimes about getting more rain than our friend who lives somewhere else because we must be “livin’ right.” Obviously, that’s not the way God works. He pours his merciful blessings on the good and the bad.
And he tells us to do the same.
“If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” ~Matthew 5:46-48
Be perfect in your indiscrimination. Be perfect in your unbiased grace toward others. Be perfect in the equality with which you share your love and good deeds. Like our God, be perfect in showing kindness and mercy to people who like you AND to people who don’t.
What a wonderful five days in Fresno with my great friends, Jim Gardner and Jimmy Mitchell, at the 12th annual Spiritual Growth Workshop at the Woodward Park Church of Christ. What a time of encouragement and edification. What a time of renewal and re-energizing.
I strained several muscles from all the laughing. I gained several pounds from the late night Cookies-and-Cream milkshakes at Chick-Fil-A and the animal fries at In-and-Out Burgers. I threw grapes at friends sitting four tables away under a big tent at a lunch on the grounds. I was inspired by Evertt Huffard’s presentation on the honor of our God. I was moved by two women who gave their lives to Christ in baptism. I was the butt of Paul Methvin’s jokes. I was hugged by a hundred different people who really don’t know me at all. I met missionaries and homeless people (sorta the same thing). I talked with Brian and learned several new “words” in sign language. I slept in Tori’s room on her Cheetah Girls sheets. I was amazed to watch the Laotians keep coming and keep coming to pack the place to worship our God. Joann’s generosity. Dan’s parsing. Andy’s sarcasm. Jimmy’s tenor. John’s unique songleading. Mandy’s personality. John Ed’s wisdom. L. Jeeves’ nametag. Steve’s great attitude. Praying with Jim and Jimmy Sunday morning, just like old times.
What a blessing to see the Kingdom of God expressed in such clear ways among his people there in the California valley. Different colors. Different cultures. Different ethnic groups. Different languages. Different ages. Different socio-economic classes. Praising God with one voice. Communing around the same table and celebrating our one salvation through our one Lord and Savior.
Participating together in baptisms. Praying together for families who’ve lost jobs. Learning new songs together. Sharing meals together. It’s wonderful. It’s heaven.
The kingdoms of the world come with power. They come with violence and noise and fanfare and bloodshed. The kingdoms of the earth come with great force. God’s Kingdom comes with casseroles and rides to the doctor. The Kingdom of God comes with kind acts and loving mercy. Hugs and pats on the back. Sharing and bearing.
May God continue to bless our brothers and sisters in Fresno as they bring the Kingdom to the California valley. May his perfect will be done there as it is in heaven.