Are You a Supporter?

three hands together
Photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/nicmcphee/291488094/">Nic McPhee</a>

3 John 1-8

A letter from “The Old One” to Guy. Love you, man!

Dear friend, I hope it’s all good with you, that you’re in good health and in good spirit. I was so glad when some of our friends arrived here and told us about how committed you are to what’s true, and how you walk the talk. Nothing makes me happier than to hear that my “kids” are doing right.

Dear friend, you are committed to doing whatever needs done for members of our community, even when to you they are still strangers to you personally. They’ve told us, the whole gathering of us, how loving you’ve been. You send them off in style, as God would have it. They began their trip for the cause of Jesus, without any heathen support. It’s up to us to support them, so they can work for truth.

Grant writers will tell you that one of the essential things funders look for in grant applications is whether there is significant support for the program within the community that is making the application. It’s an indication of the level of commitment among those who will be involved. And the commitment of those involved is generally a prerequisite for success.

More than half of this short “Third Letter of John” (the heading says only “from the Elder”) is about commitment. It’s about living what you believe, and it’s about supporting the community that is engaged in work you believe in. Often translated “fellowship,” it’s more than just a handshake after church. It’s engagement in a cooperative venture that’s doing right and running true.

It doesn’t really make any difference if your venture is a church, a grass-roots community initiative, a service organization, or a business. The same two questions apply:

  1. Is it doing right?
  2. Are you fully committed?

If you can really, honestly, truly, in your heart of hearts answer both of those in the affirmative, everything else is icing on the cake.

[Bonus: You might legitimately ask these same two questions of any person or organization that’s asking for your support (your donation, your time, your membership). It works both ways.]

Family Is More than Blood

Family line-upMark 3:20-21, 31-35

Jesus went home, where a crowd gathered before they could even finish dinner. When his family heard about it, they came to put a stop to him. He’s gone mad, they said.

So his mother and brothers came and waited outside, sending a message in calling him. All kinds of people were sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are calling for you.” But he said, “Who are my mother and brothers?” Then looking at all those sitting around him, he said, “Here we are! Whoever does the work of God – they are brothers and sisters and mothers to me.

For some (including Jesus), one of the greatest barriers to doing what you’re called to do is the people who are closest to you. Your family.

You want to be an artist, but your parents want you to be a doctor. You want to be an actor, but your parents want you to be a lawyer. You want to go on a diet, but your family sits around all evening eating potato chips and ice cream. You want to go back to school, but your family wants you to stay home and make dinner. You want to run for office, but your family thinks you’re crazy.

Blessed are those whose family supports their hopes and dreams. For the rest, take a page from Jesus’ book:

Do what you’re called to do anyway, and surround yourself with other people who believe in you and what you’re doing – a new family – who will support you in what you’re doing. A crowd of people sitting around you does two things:

  1. It gives you the support and affirmation you need to do what you’ve got to do to be you, and
  2. It gives you a little insulation when your kin are trying to shut you down (the Greek kratasai is literally, “to arrest, to detain”).

In a nutshell: surround yourself with people who believe in you, whether or not they happen to be kin.

[Please note: I’m not advocating going off and getting a divorce or running away or completely cutting off your relatives whenever you have disagreement. That’s not what Jesus is doing here. It’s implied that when his family gets with the program, they’ll be his family. Ultimately, the goal with families, too, is reconciliation. But sometimes to get there a little distance and a little cushion from those who have the greatest self-interest in conforming you to what they need is a good thing.]