Tapping the power of God’s Good News

by Wayne Schwab

Christianity has a unique message. God not only tells us how to live; God helps us to do it.

We are called to be loving and just in every relationship, in every part of life. Our problem is that we do not have the power to do it. We can go part of the way but not the whole way. By ourselves, we do not have the power to cope effectively with whatever blocks love and justice. We are weak. We need to be helped – to be saved – from the powers of evil, sin, and death. Where is such a power?  And can we share it?

The good news – the Gospel – is that the power we seek is at work in Jesus Christ and he shares that power with us.

The risen Jesus tells the disciples to continue his work, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you” (John 20:21b). The Father sent him to make clear that God’s power overcomes evil, sin, and death. Jesus has that power and shares that power – the Holy Spirit – with us. “He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (John 20:22). Here is the help – the salvation – we need. We share Jesus’ power – the Holy Spirit – to love and to be just. We have the power, with Jesus’ help, to act and to act with confidence. The same Holy Spirit that Jesus breathed on his disciples two thousand years ago he also breathes on us. Therefore, with courage, we can act and can seek to do what we believe God calls us to do.

Our baptism and reaffirmation of faith are our commitment to join Jesus to make the world more loving and more just.

There are those in the world who believe an alternative idea.  In this other teaching, our disobedience has so offended God that someone has to pay the price by dying for us to be reconciled to God.  Jesus’ death on the cross pays the price or atones for our sin and evil.

Lay aside this substitutionary atonement with its theme of punishment.  Now, through the power of the Holy Spirit, with God’s help we can cope with evil, sin, and death.   Sharing in the power of the Holy Spirit, we are saved from our weakness, so that we can respond with love and justice to the challenges we face.

Surprised by Love at the Workbench

by Wayne Schwab

The Member Mission Network offers Daily Adventures in Love and Justice, helping people to be more loving and just every day.  This adventure in love will surprise you.  It will sound like an issue in daily work.  Can you spot where love comes up?

Let’s define love – in a way that is both fresh and biblical.

Love is valuing other people as they really are
– caring for them
– forgiving them
– helping them to develop their skills and talents.
Love is valuing others as they really are.

Here’s a time that love will surprise you.  It surprised me.  It’s about a whistle blower.

Jack assembles automatic door closers for subway cars.  He threw down the parts one day.  “They’re poorly made – they won’t last long.  They allow for mistakes of four hundredths of an inch.  It ought’a be two hundredths of an inch.  I will not make any more!”

Did the place ever blow up!  Even top managers showed up.  Guess what?  They found Jack was right.  They changed the specs and Jack became an advisor of sorts.

When Jack told me about it, I had to ask, “You risked your job!  Why?”

His answer: “I could see a single mother on her way to work.  The door wouldn’t open.  She’d miss a day’s work – with kids to feed at home.  All because I had put together a door opener I knew wouldn’t last.”

Did you get it?  Love showed up in the midst of the work place!

Jack loved a person he did not even know about.  He risked his job for her.  He valued that single mother as she was – without even knowing her.  That’s real love.  He valued that mother just as she was.

Love will surprise you.  You never know where you’ll find love.

Where have you been surprised by love?

Ninth grade justice

by Wayne Schwab

This blog entry is from a podcast by Wayne Schwab of the Member Mission Network.  We help people to live better every day.  This time a unique story of justice.  It’s unique because it’s justice lived by two ninth graders, Diana and Laurie!

Diana and Laurie were with friends at lunch time.

Boys at the table next to them were throwing trash into a nearby container.  They didn’t want to bother with walking over to drop their trash in the container.

As you’d expect, one boy’s throw missed the container and splattered its contents across the floor.

A Chinese friend of Diana and Laurie said, “Pick it up.”

The thrower mocked her, saying, “I don’t speak Chinese.”

Diana and Laurie caught the insult and its bit of racism.  They objected loudly.

The boy turned and ran.

Diana and Laurie chased him.  Laurie, the bigger of the two, cornered the boy in a stair case.

They both insisted he apologize to the girl.

He did.

For the rest of the day, their Chinese friend thanked Diana and Laurie almost every time she saw them.

Diana told me the story – a neat story of advocacy.  Advocacy is defending people who need help.  That’s the promise made in her name at her baptism and affirmed by Diana herself in confirmation.  That promise is “to strive for justice” and to “respect the dignity of every human being.”

I said, “Hooray.  How good to hear you defend someone who had been insulted!”

That’s today’s adventure in justice.

For more such stories go to our website at membermission.org.

Thanks for listening.