The Best of Intentions

BROKEN WHITE LINE.jpg

by Art Greco 

Acts 3

ENCOUNTER

“I MIGHT BE INNOCENT AFTER ALL.”

Sunday I was pontificating (complaining) about getting a ticket for making a lane change by crossing over a solid white line. My point was that, even though I had the best of intentions (trying to get to the Burger King ahead of my wife Brenda so I could order for her after she had worked a particularly challenging twelve-hour shift at Marin General Hospital), those good intentions didn’t guarantee a good outcome. I made the lane change in order to avoid being forced back onto I-5 south, which would have meant Brenda arrived ahead of me and didn’t have her food waiting for her. My intentions were good – I wanted to bless my wife. But the kind officer who was lurking in the dark shadows wasn’t really interested in my motives for the allegedly illegal lane change. He just kept repeating to me one question, “would you like to go back there with me so I can show you the solid white line you crossed?”

Now I wish I had taken him up on that offer. A yet to be identified church member sent me an anonymous email with pictures of the intersection in question (attached to this devotion) … and, to put it bluntly and clearly, “THE WHITE LINE AIN’T SOLID AFTER ALL.” So maybe good intentions DO sometimes lead to good outcomes. Let’s hope so, at least.

BE REFLECTIVE

The message from Acts 3 was about the church launching into mission and, more specifically, what doing God’s mission looks like. My underlying point was that, since “the road to hell is paved with good intentions,” It takes more than meaning well to actually DO well in fulfilling the agenda of God. God’s mission is: (1) part of daily life; (2) centered on Jesus; and (3) focused in grace. However, even though good intentions aren’t enough to succeed in Christian ministry, NOT starting with them will almost always mean assured failure.

Look up the following texts about “ministry intentions” to get some clarity on why Christians do what Christians do in ministry.

  • John 10:1-10 (*7-10)

  • Matt. 5:13-20 (*17-18)

  • Luke 19:1-10 (*10)

  • Philippians 2:1-13 (*13)

When it comes to identifying good intentions for the ministry of the church, what insights do you glean from these passages?

 

 BE A BLESSING

Jeremiah 29:1-14 is a message God delivered to exiled Israel through his prophet. In so many words, God is saying something like, “You’re going to be here a while, so go on living faithfully in the place of your exile. And while you’re living there, bless, bless, bless that city and the people who live in it. That’s your mission. Oh, and, by the way, I have big plans for you … I’m going to bless you with a fantastic future and a great hope.”

 Mind you, this “city” God charges his people to bless wasn’t one that was completely in line with the beliefs, practices, or teachings of Scripture. Still, God charges his people with the task of blessing them - praying for them and seeking their welfare.

Think of the person or people in your circle of friends or acquaintances who might seem most out of sync with what you believe or how you live. God intentions are for them to find blessing and hope through YOU. 

Question: Do your intentions line up with those of God? How are you praying for their welfare and seeking to bring blessing to them through your connection with them?

 

 BE TOGETHER

 None of this is very easy. So teaming up for prayer, blessing, and even maintaining good intentions and practices is absolutely necessary. Discuss this around your dinner table, in your small group, or with a close circle of friends and challenge each other to practice grace – even with … ESPECIALLY with those who see faith and the world differently than you. 

IN EVERY RELATIONSHIP AND WITH EVERY HUMAN CONTACT, MAKE IT YOUR UNBENDABLE INTENTION TO LINK ARMS WITH OTHER CHRISTIAN FRIENDS TO ACT IN THE BEST INTEREST OF AND WITH THE PUREST OF LOVE TOWARD THOSE JESUS INTENDS TO RESCUE.