APPLYING THE “4 PRACTICES”
FOLLOW UP. This is a follow-up to last week’s entry, “4 Practices that Make or Break Community.” On Sunday, I worked with Acts 4:31-5:16, in which you would recognize three significant occurrences:
(1) hospitality and care of the poor by the early church as property was sold and the proceeds distributed to the poor;
(2) the tragic dishonesty of Ananias and Sapphira; and
(3) the subsequent fear, reverence, growth, healing matrix that occurred.
Below, I share the following five observations and then offer four ways to engage these practices this week. First, five observations on the “4 Practices” (developed by Dr. Christine Pohl) and Acts 4:31-5:16:
WHEN IN TROUBLE… 1. The beginning point for an empowering community life is turning together to God in complete confidence. Faced with threats and problems, the early Christians went to their knees before God. At their “Amen,” God filled them with the Spirit for boldness and witness.
HOSPITALITY. 2. Hospitality calls for making room for others--even to the point of giving up our own privileges--at the table God has spread.
TRUTH IN LOVE. 3. Truth-telling means bottom-line integrity, but also a readiness to “speak the truth in love” for the healing and health of the community.
FOLLOW-THROUGH. 4. Promise-keeping means simple follow-through on the great promises and small commitments that make a community a shining witness to the glory of God.
GIFTS & GRATITUDE. 5. When we see life and grace as a gift of God, we will more readily recognize and accept each other’s gifts—and let gratitude flow.
MAKE ROOM. Here are four ways to engage these practices this week: 1. Make room for a disconnected, newly-seeking, or hard-to-like person with your time, financial resources, or table fellowship.
A WORD FITLY SPOKEN. 2. Instead of just saying whatever’s on your mind (“well, it’s the truth!”), speak what is healing, edifying, and restoring. The Bible says “a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pitchers of silver.”
BEYOND “OH, THAT,” 3. Instead of making new or more promises, revisit those you have already made. What care, creativity, and new attention might you bring to an “oh, that” commitment?
GIVE GRATITUDE A BREATHING CHANCE. 4. Don’t suffocate gratitude with comparisons. Stop comparing the present with the past, what is with how you wish things were, and what you have with what you don’t (or can’t) have. Appreciate who’s here; embrace the present moment. See if gratitude doesn’t naturally well up. If it does, express it generously!