There was a startling legal case that came through the Connecticut courts recently about a family divided by a state lottery payoff. The case arose from "Powerball" winnings split in 2005 between 87-year-old Rose Bakayso and her brother Joseph Troy Sr. Their sister, Theresa Sakaitis, sued Bakaysa claiming the two sisters had a written agreement to share their lottery and casino winnings, and demanding that her sister give her half of her share of the prize.
"What came between these sisters was money," New Britain, Conn., Superior Court Judge Cynthia Swienton wrote in a decision. "There is something in this tragedy that touches most people," she wrote. "While the court may be able to resolve the legal dispute, it is powerless to repair the discord and strife that now overshadows the once harmonious sisterly relationship." I hope that you'll re-read that quote by the judge. Rules can decide issues but they can't change hearts.
As I read that story, I realized we ultimately resolve or solve things in life because of the commitments we make, not the compliance we're forced in to. We (the church) live in a dispensation of grace. If the law could have saved us, changed us and reconciled us to God and His purposes…it would have.
It wasn't rules but rather the love of God that got us here. That love was demonstrated through His son who would offer himself up on a cross as payment for our sins and proof of God's great commitment to us. Policies and rules govern us, give us clarity and help restrain chaos and confusion. We all get that. But what those things can't do is motivate us! A compelling vision—that we fully commit to—is what motivates us to give, love, forgive, hope, go, pray or do any good works.
My prayer for us this season is that we will allow the Spirit of the living God to overshadow us, arrange and re-arrange our hearts and focus so that we become a dynamic representation of the love of God to a world that is desperately in need of it. Over four billion people (two-thirds of our global population) have yet to experience freedom from the chains of sin. Obligation won't get us there but a heart for a broken world will.
I looked into the eyes of many of our national leaders on Friday in Atlanta. I listened as they spoke. There is an intense desire to accelerate the work of the gospel around the world. They want and need our partnership. In one country, 25 local Foursquare leaders have died while proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. In another, it's impossible to publicly announce that you are having church. But in both of those countries, God is raising up an army of believers, despite the obstacles. A new fire has been ignited in me to commit and not merely comply with what God is doing. I want to "ramp up" my part in a new wave of people who will pray, give and go. I pray that something is stirring in your heart, too!
Prayer Focus: "May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine upon us, that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. Then the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God will bless us" (Psalm 67:1-2, 6).
Let's go win the world for Jesus!
Glenn Burris Jr. is president-elect of The Foursquare Church