He told his students, “Don’t fret about life, about what you’ll eat. Don’t obsess about body image, and clothes. There’s way more to life than dining and fashion.”
Granted, this is much easier to say when you’re not particularly worried about the immediacy of food and clothing. And yet, even the well-to-do spend a lot of time fretting over which restaurant they’ll go to, and what they’ll wear when they go there. You need only look at the racks next to the grocery store check-out to see that the vast majority of popular reading centers around diet and fashion.
Jesus takes a much simpler approach. Eat food. Wear clothes. Then get on with the important things. Some of the important things might be making sure your neighbor has something to eat and something to wear. You can tell the important things, because someone will remember what you did for them long after they’ve forgotten what you were wearing when you did it.
Before Peter finished talking, God’s spirit came over everyone who heard the news.
The orthodoxy police who had come along were shocked that God’s spirit had been given so easily, even to these heathen. But they heard with their own ears how in many languages they were giving props to God.
So Peter asked, “Since these folk obviously have God’s spirit, are you still going to bar them from admittance?” He gave orders that they should be baptized in Jesus’ name, and they invited him to hang out with them for a few days.
Every community has its gatekeepers. They’re the ones, often self-appointed, who take it upon themselves to say whose in and whose out.
The trouble is, especially in religious communities, when the gatekeepers start using the wrong criteria for making decisions about people. The original Greek in this passage is more specifically about circumcision: “The circumcised believers who came with Peter.” That was their litmus test. But it could be any litmus test that depends on the sacred cows of the gatekeepers.
Instead, the right question to ask when deciding whether someone is eligible for membership is, “Does this person get what God is doing?” Another way to ask it: “Does this person share the spirit of the community?”
The answer to that question will nearly always, as in this case, be obvious. Chances are, God is much more ready to extend the spirit of the community than we gatekeepers are. Truth is, those who have the spirit will have a good time with it, even if the orthodoxy police are shocked by it.
The sad irony is the ones who end up self-excluded are the gatekeepers.
I loved you just like God loved me. Stay in my love.
This is how you stay in my love: do what I say. I do what God says. That’s how I stay in God’s love.
(I’ve told you all this so my happiness can be your happiness. Be completely happy.)
And this is what I’m telling you to do: Love each other, the way I’ve loved you. The ultimate love is to give your life for your friends. If you do this, you’re my friends. Not just my employees with no vested interest in what the employer is doing, but friends with a personal stake in, and a first hand knowledge of, the business.
You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you. Now go and do what’s worthwhile, something enduring. On my account, God will give you what you need to make it happen. Do it for the love of one another.
It’s been said, “Love is a verb.”
In this passage, it is both a noun and a verb. It’s received and stayed in (perhaps even basked in) as a noun, and it is given as a verb. It is something both felt and done.
On either end of the love transaction, though, in this passage, what is paramount is that love is something that, both in the giving and the receiving, requires a personal stake.
You can be good to your employees. You can be a good employee. But you can only love a friend.
You can be in a business for the money, or to make a living. But you can only be in love when you’re committed to a project or a person with your life.
Noun or verb, Jesus says love as a personal stake means two things:
First, you can only really be happy – completely happy – when you’re in love. Which is to say, you can only really find that which truly fulfills you when you’re willing to risk giving yourself away.
Second, the project or person worthy of that kind of personal devotion isn’t something that you decide upon. There is no “going away to find yourself.” Rather, it’s something (or someone) that chooses you. It is not finding, but allowing yourself to be found that matters.