Jesus, Pizza, and Extravagant Grace
By: Christy Lee-Yim
Key Passage: Acts 2:42-47
And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved
Today’s reflection was inspired by a little boy in our children’s ministry. Last week, we did an activity called a “Lego Challenge”, in which the kids were tasked to recreate our Bible story using Legos. To encourage participation, I told the kids that the winning project would merit a large pizza delivered to the house of the creator. One of my students, excited by the idea of a whole free pizza, finished his project on the very Sunday it was assigned and excitedly sent over pictures of his creation that afternoon. He ended up winning the contest this past Sunday, and I told him that a pizza would be delivered to his house mid week. Needles to say, he was very excited! But as Monday rolled around, I was shocked to get a text from his mother which read: “Hello! About the pizza [my son] got as a prize on Sunday. He wants to give this pizza to a family who really has trouble getting food during this time or wants to donate it to free dining.”
I was shocked, amazed, and so blessed to receive this message. I knew for a fact that this kid loves pizza! He was so excited to win this prize that he finished the project the day it was assigned! Yet, he decided to give this pizza away to someone he doesn’t even know, because he knew that there were others who needed it more than him. I was reminded of the heart of Jesus through this child.
I was also reminded that in these uncertain times, it is so important for the church to rise up to be the Church during this time. We see this challenge in Acts 2:42-47 when Peter describes the early church. As people received the gospel and the Holy Spirit, they were compelled to dive deeper in the word, love each other well, and get this: [to sell] their possessions and belongings and [to distribute] the proceeds to all, as any had need. And as a result, the Lord grew the early church. We mustn't forget that the early church was extremely persecuted at this time. Yet they not only loved one another with words and deeds: they loved each other sacrificially, giving out of not only their plenty but also their poverty for the sake of one another.
How could they do this? There are several reasons. But the one that I want to focus on today is that they realized that the gospel meets the needs both spiritually and physically -- it’s not just one or the other. This is modeled in the fact that Jesus resurrected with a real and physical resurrected body. Likewise, when God saves us, he doesn’t just save our spirits. He saves our whole being. We will spiritually and bodily be resurrected with Jesus one day when he brings down the New Heavens and the New Earth. So what does this mean for believers and the church now in the already and not yet? It means that God gives us the privilege of being fishers of men: not just to share the WORDS of the good news, but also to manifest the gospel in ACTION. In times of distress, or even plenty, it is easy to just simply pray for people who are going through hardships, or perhaps even proclaim some gospel truth to them. What’s harder is to sacrifice ourselves to love them with what we treasure. We are reminded in the gospel narrative that Jesus gave up his very body for us, the ultimate ACT of love. God didn’t just give us words from his throne but he came down to die for us. What greater proof of love is there than this? Likewise, we as the Church are called to die to ourselves for the lost.
CPC, we have been saying for a long time that we want to grow. Well, here is our chance. In a time of extreme uncertainty with the coronavirus, our community is hurting. People have lost jobs. Some are ill. Many are fearful of what is to come. It is easy in this time to cave in and protect ourselves out of fear as well. Yet as the Church, we are called to be so much more. We are called to move sacrificially towards our community in this time, giving of our time and yes, even resources, extravagantly… and even expecting nothing in return. We do this because we know and love our savior who gave everything to us, and in our acts of extreme grace and generosity, people will know our Savior. This is evangelism. To proclaim the truth and live it out! Let us rise to the challenge as individuals and the church to live out our calling.