“As everyone has received a gift, use it to serve one another” (1 Peter 4:10).
Let’s start with good news: the “community fridge movement” could “change the way we think about helping each other”. Fridges are placed in accessible locations and then food is provided by community members, restaurants, local chefs, urban farmers, grocers and pantries.
CNNAJ Willingham describes it as “a growing self-help movement supporting neighborhoods in need while tackling food waste and taking a hard look at the larger causes of food insecurity.” Latisha Springer in Atlanta and Eric von Haynes in Chicago are leading the way.
Here’s more good news: A nineteen-year-old autistic man, found with a cold and sleeping in a gas station parking lot, has been reunited with his family nearly three years after he went missing in California. Sheriff’s deputies in Summit County, Utah discovered his identity and alerted his family. “I never stopped looking for him,” his mother told the Associated press. “There hasn’t been a day that I haven’t sought it out, in some form or another.”
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. observed, “We are caught in an inescapable web of mutuality, bound together in a single garment of fate. Whatever affects someone directly, affects everyone indirectly. In other words, what one person does can affect everyone, for good or bad.
Eight-year-old child separated from his family during the fall of Afghanistan
For the first time in three decades, Ramadan, Passover and Easter coincided this year. As tens of thousands of worshipers gathered in Jerusalem’s Old City, Palestinians and Israeli police clashed at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday amid an increase in street violence in Israel in recent weeks .
There were three shootings in the United States over Easter weekend, two in South Carolina and one in Pittsburgh. Two miners were killed and at least thirty-one people were injured. A man jumped from a Carnival Cruise Line ship into the Atlantic Ocean, the third such incident in two months. According to Ukrainian police, Russian forces retreating from the Kyiv region left behind the bodies of more than nine hundred massacred Ukrainian citizens.
The United States has now passed one million coronavirus deaths. Cultural analyst David French notes that this “comes on top of escalating deaths from despair and ‘normal’ losses from cancer, heart disease and all the other diseases that destroy our mortal flesh”. He adds: “Our nation is absorbing such a wave of deaths that the richest, most technologically advanced and most powerful nation in the world is experiencing a decline in life expectancy.”
And a move the wall street journal article describes the anguish of a separated family in the chaos of the fall of Afghanistan. An eight-year-old son became detached from his parents and was left in the crush to board the last plane out of the country.
The miracle that led to the miracle of Pentecost
If these stories make you feel there’s not much you can do to help our broken world, remember Dr. King’s wisdom. And remember the Easter results.
Only a handful of people met Jesus in the days immediately following his resurrection. But this handful soon became “about 120” followers of Christ (Acts 1:15) who were “all together in one place” at Pentecost (Acts 2:1).
Each was then “filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance” (v. 4). In response, “the multitude gathered together, and they were terrified, because each one heard them speaking in his own language” (v. 6). This miracle then led to Peter’s Pentecostal sermon and the salvation of “about three thousand souls” (v. 41).
We do not know the names of most of the 120 disciples, but we locate ourselves in their spiritual line. The same is true of the “more than five hundred brethren” who met Jesus after his resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:6).
Why “Judas Called Barsabbas” Is So Inspirational
One early Christian has been of particular interest to me lately. In Acts 15, the Council of Jerusalem determined that Gentiles could become Christians without first becoming Jews, a watershed moment in Christian history. They sent the news to the Gentile church in Antioch with “Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, chiefs among the brethren” (v. 22).
We know Silas by his subsequent engagement to Paul: he accompanied him on his second missionary journey and is mentioned fourteen times in this connection. But “Judas called Barsabbas” is another story.
“Barsabbas” means “son of Sabbas” (the eldest) or “son of the Sabbath” (meaning he was born on the Sabbath day). We learn in verse 32 that he and Silas were both “prophets” and that they “encouraged and strengthened the brethren with many words.”
He may have been related to “Joseph called Barsabbas,” who was one of two men proposed to replace Judas among the twelve apostles (Acts 1:23). The other, Matthias, is cast (v. 26) and Joseph fades into history.
Although we know very little about “Judas Called Barsabbas,” every Gentile in Christian history owes him a great debt. His work has helped legitimize and strengthen the Christian movement in historic ways. Imagine a world in which Gentiles had to become Jews to become Christians: you and I would have to submit to the 613 laws of Judaism and every Gentile man would have to be circumcised to become a Christian and join the church.
“A Commission by a Heavenly King”
“Judas dit Barsabbas” joined a long list of unknowns whose faithfulness changed history. Now it’s our turn.
If you have personally encountered the risen Christ, you have an obligation to pass on the grace you have experienced. Every person you meet is someone for whom Jesus died. If you think right now that your life can’t make a difference in our broken world, guess where that thought came from. Even if history does not record your name, each person you influence for Jesus will be marked for eternity by your faithfulness.
Scottish missionary, scientist and explorer David Livingstone observed, “If a commission from an earthly king is considered an honor, how can a commission from a heavenly king be considered a sacrifice?
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