Lectionary reading for 4/11/2021: Acts 4:32-35; Psalm 133; 1 John 1:1-2:2; John 20:19-31
Selected passage for reflection: Acts 4:32-35 (NIV)
32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.
When I read this passage, I am struck by how powerfully people experienced God’s grace. So much so that “no one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had”. This to me demonstrates ultimate vulnerability and living into abundance.
One of the things I’m constantly thinking about is how little Christians demonstrate a life that is evidence of God’s grace. We may individually be grateful for the transforming love and grace of God in our personal and individual relationship with God but I’m struck by how we as a community fail to show this to our broken world that is in so much need of grace. We don’t live to demonstrate this type of grace as the Christians in Acts did.
Back when I was in college I read a book called “What’s so Amazing About Grace” by Philip Yancy. The opening story to that book has been seared in my memory and that book, among others is the reason I do what I do, in public policy advocacy because of my faith. Yancy opens the book with a story of a prostitute who is a drug addict and she is at the steps of his church crying. He comes to find out that because of her need to feed her addiction, she sold her young daughter for sex for the first time and she was beside herself because of guilt. Yancy asks her “why don’t you go inside the church and ask for support?” And her answer haunts me to this day. She goes, “I already feel so awful about what I did, why would I go in there just so they can make me feel worse!?”
That haunts me because that answer is a simple summary of how people experience the church. When I was a senior at Wheaton College, I interned for an advocacy organization. I would go to community meetings about housing, voting and language access. When people found out I was a senior at Wheaton College, more than not, people’s first reaction would be “what are you doing here?” or “I would have never expected to meet a Wheaton College student here” and when I would inquire more, the answers always were about how Wheaton College was conservative, and what the various groups I was meeting with were doing were too progressive for folks at Wheaton College. Basically they said they didn’t know people at Wheaton College cared about changing the world so it’s a more fair and equitable society.
Years later, after my seminary education, I went on to work as a community organizer and I was met with similar reactions. But because I had a seminary degree, I had many folks who had walked away from the faith asking me theological questions because they all walked away from the faith because they could not reconcile the bigotry and greed of “Christianity” with their developing sense to fight for social justice.
When I read this passage in Acts it really pains me because the early Christians, who were so touched by the power of God’s grace were all about generosity and giving of themselves, which seems quite the opposite from the display we see of Christianity today in this country.
I currently work as an executive director of an organization that is advocating for public policy changes so that immigrant women, and all women of color can thrive and have agency over their lives. I cannot express how hard this fight is and the people who are the biggest obstacle are those who profess to be Christians.
It is my prayer that those of us who are committed to demonstrating the power of God’s grace that leads us to live radically generous lives continue to shine our lights brighter and let our salt be saltier than those who claim to be Christians who do not demonstrate the radical grace-filled lives that we should be living.
Lord, give us the courage, creativity and perseverance to live our lives that demonstrates the power of your grace that has transformed our lives. Help us live more generously, boldly and prophetically. Amen.
About the Author
The Reverend Sung Yeon Choimorrow is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) ordained to specialized ministry. She currently serves as the Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF), an organization building power with Asian American Pacific Islander Women and Girls to create a world where we can all thrive and have agency over our bodies, families and communities. Sung Yeon is a first generation Korean American living in Chicago with her partner Joseph and daughter Ella where her family focuses on raising Ella to be proud to be Black and Korean American.