A few years ago I was taking a group on a mission trip to Mexico. Before we left I gave everyone a bracelet to wear while we were on the trip.
The bracelet had 4 simple words on it.
I asked our team to let these 4 words guide everything about our trip.
I asked them to look at the 4 words before they ever complained about anything.
I asked them to look at the 4 words when things didn’t go their way.
I asked them to read the 4 words as soon as they woke up in the morning & before they went to bed at night.
I asked them to look at the 4 words in the afternoon when they were hot & tired.
And I gave them permission to remind each other of the 4 words if at any point they saw or heard someone else having a hard time on our mission trip together.
The 4 words were simply, “IT’S NOT ABOUT ME.”
And let me tell you, it was amazing how those 4 words changed our trip.
Those 4 words can change your life too if you will let them.
Because there was an otherness about Jesus & we are always at our best when there is an otherness about us.
Otherness in a Me-Centric World
What can happen if we’re not careful is that we can pull together as a church when there is a need… like we should, but then in times or seasons where things for the most part are going well… we can be self centered & me-centric.
That’s because gravitational pull of our lives is always towards the inside, toward self.
It’s something we have to continually keep before us because, as you know, we live in a very me-centered culture. And if we’re not careful, church culture can become just as me-centered as the world we live in. But that should not be true of those of us who are followers of Jesus.
Back to the Beginning
When the first church began, it grew in incredible ways & I believe that was, in part, because of the otherness of the church.
Here’s what Luke wrote about the church when it first started in the city of Jerusalem:
“All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.
A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.”
Isn’t this a beautiful picture of the church? Doesn’t this sound like a church you would want to be a part of?
Here’s what I want you to see… In these 6 verses in Acts 2, you have a picture of what life looked for the first believers in Jesus in the aftermath of the cross.
This is what life looked for those men & women, many of whom were eye witnesses of the life & ministry of Jesus, after Jesus ascended to Heaven. It’s as if they were all wearing a bracelet that read, “It’s not about me.”
And this is what life looks like for you & me when our life is rooted in an event. This is what life looks like for you & me when our lives are lived in the aftermath of the cross of Jesus of Nazareth!
Life in the Aftermath of the Cross
When you live in the aftermath of the cross everything changes.
When you live your life in the aftermath of the cross…
You devote yourself to the teachings of Jesus & the teachings about Jesus.
You devote yourself to fellowship with other believers, to doing life with each other, encouraging each other, loving each other.
You devote yourself sharing meals together because eating together is a sign of trust, of love, of unity.
You devote yourself to the Lord’s Supper because our life & our faith is rooted in an event, in the resurrection of Jesus!
You devote yourself to prayer because you realize WHO God is & the price He paid to have a relationship with you.
You experience a deep sense of AWE & WONDER because of who Jesus is & ALL He has done.
You’re quick to share everything you have with other believers because… in light of what God has given you in Jesus, how could you hold anything back?
When you experience the uncommon generosity of God first hand, that He willing gave the life of His Son for you so you could live… how could you not share what you’ve been given with the fellow believer who is in need!?
Taking our Cue from Jesus
Like the first church, we take our cue from Jesus. We want to have an otherness about us because Jesus was always about others. Because the first gatherings of believers in Jesus were always about others. Because God has always been about us, with us & for us & we are most like Christ when we are about others, with others & for others!
Because life in the aftermath of the cross is a life that’s lived for others.
So we take care of each other. We serve each other because of the way Christ has served us.
There is no room for selfishness in a community of faith living in the aftermath of the cross. Our faith is rooted in the most unselfish event the world has ever known.
Can you imagine what life would be like for us if we became more like the church that Luke described? I know there’s a sense in which it’s impossible. But there’s also got to be a sense in which it is possible.
Where it is possible for us to love each other that much. Care for others that much. And when we do, when we realize we’re not here for us, we’re here for each other.
This is us, real people, with real problems, believing in a real God & serving others the way Christ has served us.