Week of September 24
by Max Lucado
In 1976 tremors devastated the highland of Guatemala. Thousands of people were killed, and tens of thousands were left homeless. A philanthropist offered to sponsor a relief team from our college. This flyer was posted in our dormitory: "Needed: students willing to use their spring break to build cinder block homes in Quetzaltenango." I applied, was accepted, and began attending the orientation sessions.
There were twelve of us in all. Mostly ministry students. All of us, it seemed, loved to discuss theology. We were young enough in our faith to believe we knew all the answers. This made for lively discussions. We bantered about a covey of controversies. I can't remember the list. It likely included the usual suspects of charismatic gifts, end times, worship styles, and church strategy. By the time we reached Guatemala, we'd covered the controversies and revealed our true colors. I'd discerned the faithful from the infidels, the healthy from the heretics. I knew who was in and who was out.
But all of that was soon forgotten. The destruction from the earthquake dwarfed our differences. Entire villages had been leveled. Children were wandering through the rubble. Long lines of wounded people awaited medical attention. Our opinions seemed suddenly petty. The disaster demanded teamwork. The challenge created a team.
The task turned rivals into partners. I remember one fellow in particular. He and I had distinctly different opinions regarding the styles of worship music. I—the open minded, relevant thinker—favored contemporary, upbeat music. He—the stodgy, close-minded caveman—preferred hymns and hymnals. Yet when stacking bricks for houses, guess who worked shoulder to shoulder? As we did, we began to sing together. We sang old songs and new, slow and fast. Only later did the irony of it dawn on me. Our common concern gave us a common song.
What if the missing ingredient for changing the world is teamwork? "When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I'll be there" (Matt. 18:19-20 MSG).
This is an astounding promise. When believers agree, Jesus takes notice, shows up, and hears our prayers.
And when believers disagree? Can we return to my Guatemalan memory for a moment?
Suppose our group had clustered according to opinions. Divided according to doctrines. If we had made unanimity a prerequisite for partnership, can you imagine the consequences? We wouldn't have accomplished anything. When worker divide, it is the suffering who suffer most.
They've suffered enough, don't you think? The Jerusalem church found a way to work together. They found common ground in the death, burial, resurrection of Christ. Because they did, lives were changed.
And as you and I do, the same will happen.
Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their work:
If one falls down,
his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!
(Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NIV)
O Lord, whenever I address you as "ourFather," cause me to remember that I have been called to be part of a holy community. You did not call me to remain in isolation but placed me in the body of Christ, along with every other believer in Jesus throughout the world in every age. Please give me the grace to act on the truth that you created us to grow as a team, to work as a team, to worship as a team, and to weep and laugh and live as a team. Grant me the wisdom and the strength to partner with you and with my brothers and sisters in Christ to meet the needs you place before us. For Jesus' sake and in his name I pray, amen.
From Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make a Difference
Copyright (Thomas Nelson, 2010) Max Lucado
We talk as though we understand the term. The bank gives us a grace period. The seedy politician falls from grace. Musicians speak of a grace note. We describe an actress as gracious, a dancer as graceful. We use the word for hospitals, baby girls, kings, and premeal prayers. We talk as though we know what grace means.
But do we really understand it? Have we settled for wimpy grace? It politely occupies a phrase in a hymn, fits nicely on a church sign. Never causes trouble or demands a response. When asked, “Do you believe in grace?” who could say no?