Heath Hollensbe

Jesus Follower | Neighbor Lover | Artist | Blogger

This is the official website of Heath Hollensbe. Heath is a Seattle based follower of Jesus who is learning to love his neighbor as much as he loves himself. And here's where he blogs about it.  

Our Consumerism Mentality Regarding Acts 2

And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met. They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved. (Acts 2:43-47).

This is really fascinating verse. This is also verse I've heard taken out of context numerous times by numerous people. My fear is that we as Americans have come to this verse with a consumer mindset, rather than one of really trying to understand and live out what this verse is saying has happened.

We all desire to see that "every day their number grew as God added those who were saved".  however, if we're being honest,  very few of us want to live in a way that this verse describes before that line.  Myself included.

There are a few points that I think must be noted:

First, it was God who added to the numbers. Not man. (Sorry attractional churches). It was not necessarily the things that the believers were doing that added to the numbers. However it does appear that their actions created an environment where God chose to add daily,  but in no way does this verse give glory to any man for the growing of the church. 

Secondly,  there were many things going on around this time. It's almost as if there was a perfect storm brewing for God to grow His church. Read the earlier part of this chapter for more context. 

Third, people in general liked what they saw. The way that Christians were living was appealing to those people that didn't know Jesus. It was the kindling that God would use to add. 

My concern is that we want to see "God added those who are saved", without being willing to  sacrifice in a way that our early family members did. Are we willing to sell whatever we own and pull our resources so that each person's need is met? And not just once, but as a lifestyle?  We like the way that sounds in theory. Practically though, forget it. Are we willing to go after the American idol of "family" and "family time",  and spend every day together with one another in celebration? Are we truly willing to live in wonderful harmony? Pursuing reconciliation rather than running?  Are we really willing to live together. In community. As family.  

I've heard many pastors speak on this verse with very shallow challenges to living this out at face value. The challenge is often given as icing on the cake. As if we should try to desire this, IF we can fit it into our normal everyday schedule.

Gospel living should interrupt our schedules.  It should take precedent over the isolating "American Dream" lifestyle that we so easily fall into. The gospel must dictate our schedule, our finances, our parenting, our intentionality, where we live, etc.  It should never be in addition to the lifestyle that we have currently set into motion. Apart from Jesus, hierarchy is not found in the kingdom of God.

The community of Jesus followers on this earth should look vibrant and colorful and alive. However, often what is often seen is rules, regulations,  and lukewarm obedience to following a set lifestyle that is a breeding ground for legalism.

I want my neighbors to know Jesus. But I am concerned that I'm not willing to do what it takes to make that a reality. And that frightens me.  Because it makes me realize that I love myself and my preferences more than I love the thought of my neighbors coming to know Jesus.  So, do I really love my neighbor as myself? 

Reconciliation: The Way The World Is Supposed To Be

If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.
— Matthew 5:24

If I were to ask 10 of my closest friends to name the top 10 character traits that they see in me, I am fairly certain that the word "gracious" would not appear in any of their lists. I know this is an issue. I'm getting better. Definitely growing in this area. 

In December, in typical Heath Hollensbe fashion,  I commented a few sentences on a Facebook post that hurt some friendships. My words were not grace-filled. They were harsh. And selfish. In fact, so bad that I lost a few really valuable friendships over it. It sucked. Still does. 

A week or two after this post, we sat down, had a conversation and tried to work things out and get to the heart of the matter. That conversation went okay, and we all thought that the air was cleared. 3 months later, it is apparent that is not the case. I was de-followed on Instagram, asked to move out of a business place, and even released from a company that I started with these guys. Losing friends sucks. A Lot. Why? Because It's not the way that things were supposed to be. 

This verse from Matthew 5 shows how important reconciliation is to God. We're told to "leave the place of worship immediately, go to that friend and make things right"… Whoa!

As I read that text this week, I felt the Holy Spirit tell me that he wanted to reveal to me people that I needed to be reconciled with. So, I decided to take a few hours of solitude and waited for the those people to be brought to my attention. Some of the friends I spoke of earlier immediately came to mind. So, I reached out. One of the responses back was not what I wanted to hear… There was not a desire to get together and chat and try to fix things. Damn. I did not see that coming. 

I was genuinely heartbroken because I didn't know what to do next. So I got on my phone and looked up reconciliation, and here is the definition:

the act of causing two people or groups to become friendly again after an argument or disagreement
— Merriam Webster Dictionary

Reconciliation cannot happen unless two parties are willing and able to pursue it together. Reconciliation is never a one way street. Sometimes, when both parties are not willing and able to reconcile, it can't happen. Tragic. 

Reconciliation should be one of the main things that sets followers of Jesus apart from those who do not. While there is hurt and sin in this screwed up world, Christians should be quick to reconcile. It mirrors the diligence that Christ has in pursuing His bride. It reflects the great hope that we have of Christ coming and making all things new. Hebrews references that peace among God's people actually has a position of revealing God. Amazing!

Work at getting along with each other and with God. Otherwise you’ll never get so much as a glimpse of God
— Hebrews 12:14

So as I try to press these truths into my own heart, and perhaps share a little bit of what I am currently going through (in hopes that it helps you), I want to be a source of encouragement. Let's be gentle with one another. Filled with grace. Sensitive to one another. Quick to forgive. Thorough to forgive. Because as we grow in this, we become more like Jesus. 

Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.
— Ephesians 4:32

 

 

God's Love = Grounded On Nothing

But you haven’t seen the half of it yet, for in the same way that the Father raises the dead and creates life, so does the Son. The Son gives life to anyone he chooses. Neither he nor the Father shuts anyone out.
— John 5:20-23

If I am being honest, I have a love/hate relationship with this verse. In fact, I am not even sure that I want it to be true. Because if it is true, then there is a whole lot of grace and acceptance shown to those that I don't feel deserve that sort of grace, patience, love and acceptance. 

In many regards, I have the older brother mentality from the Prodigal Son Parable. For so long, I have done almost everything right. I should be the one who has a growing career, I should be making more money, I should have the nice house and car and etc.. 

Apparently, having it all together is not a condition for God to accept us. In fact, most Jesus' parable unveil God to be constantly overgenerous in displaying love, and forgiveness and grace. 

This sort of love showcases a God who completely flips our ideals of justice and fairness upside down. It shakes up our long-held views of morality. It agitates the Pharisee in us. 

How are we supposed to deal with a God whose love forgives us rather than lays out a list of consequences for our actions? How are we supposed to take a God seriously who hands out forgiveness without us having to do specific things? Or live a specific way? 

The love of God is not based on anything, and it is because of this that it is never going to fail us. If it were grounded in a certain way we did things, or spoke, or thought…. then we would all be jacked within a very short time. Unfortunately, many of us do not believe this truth… And tragically, we live in such a way that denies this truth. And it spills out into our friendships and relationships and neighborhoods. That is why many people who do not follow Jesus see it as a list of rules and habits that we must keep. 

However, the love of God is exactly the opposite. 

That is what makes the God of Christianity different than all of the rest. It's not about rules… It's about His relentless grace, love and patience pounds on us like driving rain on desert hearts. 

This is so different than the way that we naturally love. I tend to love the things that don't rattle me up. People who don't disagree with me very often. I am prone to be more patient to people who agree with me. However, it is the nature of God to love, so He does it. He cannot limit it or suppress it when He feels like it. It transcends cultures, and colors, and political thoughts and parenting styles, etc….  

Jesus lives for those who have no love. He's kind to those who used to love, but forgot how to anymore. He died so that his accusers and murderers would live. He does not love us to the level that we deserve. If that were true, we would be royally screwed. However, He loves…. Because He is not able to do anything other than that. 

Let's stop trying so hard…... it will never change anything anyway.