Saturday, 4 June 2016

Why should we share?


[Invite a pre-prepared older child to arm wrestle with a younger smaller child. Tell them that the prize is a large box of chocolates. Usually the older will want to allow the younger to win, but you need to persuade them before the service that they must win]

Is that fair? Unfortunately that is the way that the world works. The strong get the stuff and the weaker usually get nothing. 

Perhaps N [who has the sweets] should share them. But why should they share? I'm sure that they could make a very strong case for keeping what they have. After all they won it in a fair fight!

And why should I share what I have?

1. We share because we are told to: They tell us to share at school. And the government tell us to share. That is what taxes are. But usually when we share because we have been told to share, we try to get out of it. We try to avoid paying taxes. 
In the OT people were told to share: they were told to tithe. But because they really didn't want to share, they found ways round it. 
2. We share because we feel we ought to. We feel guilty if we don’t. Charities have been challenged on this. Sometimes they get people to give by making them feel guilty if they don’t give, and they prey on people who are vulnerable. You know when you give out of guilt when your giving is token-giving. (Giving away one sweet from our box of chocolates).
3. We share out of self-interest: we give for what we can get back for it. I share with you today because one day I may need you to share with me. Or I share with you to make you or other people like me: so that they say, 'What a generous person they are!'  In Jesus’ day people would have a giving competition: see what a great person I am because I give more than you. (So we give away not one sweet, but two sweets. Am I not a lovely, generous person?). Jesus challenged people who gave like that.
4. We share because we really want to


That is the kind of sharing that happens in Acts 4.32-35. 
People share:
- not because they have been told to do so.
- not because they think they ought to.
- not out of self-interest (they don’t give directly, but through the church leaders – so no sense of control). 
- but they give because they want to.

And that is evidence that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, is at work in their lives and in their community.

1)    The Holy Spirit has given them a deep love for Jesus. Do you notice how it says here that they continue to testify, to tell people, about the resurrection of Jesus. The single most important thing that this Spirit filled community can do is to tell people that Jesus is alive.

2)    The Holy Spirit has made them realise that everything they have is a gift. You received this box of chocolates as a gift. But everything that we have is gift. And do you notice here how we are told that these first Christians don’t call anything their own.

3)    The Holy Spirit has set them free to share. Not just share a little, the left-overs. They share big – they sell lands and houses. The Holy Spirit has set them free to let go.
They know that who they are does not depend on what they have. 
In our world the person with the big box of chocolates is better than the person with the little box of chocolates. But they know that is not true.
And they also know that they don’t need to hold on to everything to be secure – because they can trust God for the future.

4)    The Holy Spirit has given them a deep sense of love for their brothers and sisters (They are of ‘one heart, one mind’). And the Holy Spirit starts to help them think. Why should I have when others don’t have? 

[To the child with the chocolates] I'm giving you an ethical dilemma. I really have given you that box of chocolates. What are you going to do with your box of chocolates? 

And if you think that is really unfair of me to do that to N – then I challenge each of us. 
We possess far more than a box of chocolates. 

Do we know anything of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives?
Do we have that deep love of Jesus?
Do we realise that everything we have is gift?
Are we being set free to give?
Are we being given a deeper and deeper love for our Christian brothers and sisters, and especially for those in need?

In other words, what are we going to do with what we do have?

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