Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Lessons From the Desert: Action Speaks Louder Than Words

This month at Pasture Living, I'm sharing what I learned during my Israel trip and why I think this series is very relevant to healthy living. I believe being physically healthy is important, but being mentally, psychologically, and spiritually healthy is also extremely important for a fulfilling and joyful life. If you missed any of this series, click here.

Advent Day 17

Action Speaks Louder Than Words

Passage Reading: Matthew 25:34-36, 40

If we are leaders and are looking for people to be our disciples, our tendency would be to look for those who are educated, smart, perhaps rich and well-connected to the community. But Jesus chose the fishermen and tax collectors to be His disciples. It tells us that Jesus doesn't require us to be perfect to follow Him, but to have a relationship with Him and be obedient in following Him, allowing Him to continually shape and refine us to the people He wants us to be. He wants a relationship with us. The Bible talks about our relationship with God like the bride and groom relationship. It's covenantal love that requires commitment on both parts to love and be faithful. The Bible says "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your might. And love our neighbors as ourselves." How can we say we love our spouse if our actions don't reflect it? How can we say we love God if we are not obedient? How would the world know that we love God if we don't love our neighbors? We say we need to have more faith, to believe more. What does that really mean? Faith is something that is not always easy to understand, but faithful actions are easily understood by everyone from all walks of life. By building the "kingdom" (loving others, following God’s commands, etc.), they will find the King. Action speaks louder than words and true faith manifests in action.

Shevet Achim

We visited Shevet Achim, "a grace-based international community that brings children with congenital heart defects to the advanced medical centers in Israel. The name Shevet Achim comes from the Hebrew of Psalm 133, "Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity...For there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life forevermore." We believe this promise to hold true for the troubled relationship between the children of Abraham in the Middle East Fundamentally Shevet Achim is an expression of God's grace. What we have to communicate is not the work we do but the animating spirit behind and through it: we are people in need of grace interacting with people in need of grace. This idea in no way belongs to us. And in no way do we keep it in perfection. Grace, beautiful to the soul and efficacious in reality, has a tendency to become old and encrusted. Therefore, at the heart of the interaction in Jerusalem between Muslims, Jews, and Christians, our desire is not to enlist people in our brand of religion but to experience a breakthrough of this truth ourselves. Only then does it become contagious. Grace received becomes grace given. Love received becomes love given. Old cycles are broken, kingdom comes. This is the great hope for us, as individual people and as a community: that our posture will become this divine, viral essence. Our activity consists of locating children with heart defects in cooperation with partner physicians, transporting them to Israel, sharing hospitality with them and their parents while in the country, and building partnerships to fund their surgeries."

Our Pastor with Mohammed, a little baby
who just had a heart operation.

When our Pastor was volunteering with Shevet Achim, she remembered a time when she had to bring a sick baby to cross from Jordan to Israel while fires and gun attacks were in the air. The baby had oxygen tank attached to him and the Israeli army could not allow the baby to enter Israel because oxygen tanks were used as a tool for explosives and they also did not want to risk the baby’s life by taking the oxygen tank away. They tried to cross again the next day and seeing the severity of his health, the head of the Israeli himself ran out and grabbed the baby with his oxygen tank attached and ran back to the car that would take him to the city, in the midst of gun fires that were shot as he was running to and fro. What an evidence of courage and love for those whom we don't even know. How much more would our Father in heaven fight and protect us?

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the Kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I need clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me... Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it for me." - Matthew 25:34-36, 40

We're already among the fortunate ones if we can choose what food to eat today, because for most people, they don't even know if they have food to eat today. The smallest acts of kindness may make all the difference to a person's life. Let's love and live well so that the whole world may know about our loving Father.

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