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Love that Changes the World

With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.
-Acts 4:33-35

Gregory sat in the long line of cars waiting for the light to change. He knew that he would watch the light change at least three more times before his turn to get through the intersection. He was listening to his favorite Gospel station. The meteorologist had predicted another day of freezing temperatures. He looked over at his phone to make sure he had set the thermostat to toasty in preparation for his return from the office. He didn’t believe in heating an empty house, but he also didn’t want to wait to be warm after a long day of work. 

Gregory had made good on his promise to his parents. After growing up in poverty, and facing eviction more than a few times, he vowed that once he made it neither his parents nor he would ever be in need again. His decision to go into real estate paid off and he was living his dreams. He was the only millionaire in his family and had just made the cover of the local commercial real estate magazine for a big deal that he’d just closed. His parents couldn’t be prouder of him. As soon as he made his first million, he built them the home of their dreams in their hometown in the South. With his second million, he purchased a penthouse condo in the middle of the city. He had real estate holdings all over the city and three vacation homes, including one in the Caribbean.

Gregory was deep in thought when he heard the knock on his driver’s side window. Before looking to his left, he looked up at the light. He still had a way to go. When he turned, his eyes landed on the face of someone who looked vaguely familiar. He was not about to roll down his window, but he was intrigued. He kept trying to make out the face. 

“Greg, Gregory Adams, is that you? It’s me, Mark Washington. After a moment, Gregory recognized the face of his long-lost friend from high school. He rolled down his window and the smell of urine and other body odors floated into his car. He tried to hid his grimace. “Man, what are you doing out here in this weather?” As soon as the words came out, Gregory knew how silly they sounded. Obviously, Mark was homeless. He just didn’t understand why. They both went to college. They both did well in school. Mark was an engineer. What happened?

Mark read his mind, “I wanted to serve my country because my dad and grandfather had done the same. After 911, I changed course and used my engineering talent to serve this nation. Over there, things were as bad as you can imagine. I got hit and injured badly. When they brought me back, they were able to fix my body, but not this mind. Today, I am lucid. Today is a good day.”

Gregory sat listening to his friend. He didn’t know what to say. He also didn’t hear the line of cars behind him blowing their horns. The yelling woman behind him and Mark’s pat on his shoulder brought him back to the present moment. Greg moved up closer to the light. He knew that his turn was next to get through the intersection. What was he going to do? 

Before he second-guessed himself, he looked at Mark and said, “Get in man.” 

“What?” Mark responded.

“You heard me, get in out of this cold.”

“Are you sure? I am not dressed to be sitting in your Mercedes.”

“Get in!”

Mark came around to the passenger side and got in the car quickly. Greg braced himself for the assault on his nostrils. The light changed, and Greg went through slow and then drove to his office in Midtown. He pulled into his parking space and the two men sat quietly for a while as the Gospel station played softly in the background.

Mark was the first to speak. “Remember when we said that we wanted to change this world. Make it better for people like the ones we grew up with in our old neighborhood. We had no clue how to do that when we got those scholarships to college. I still can’t believe we got to go to college because of that essay you wrote and because of my science project. Still can’t believe it. We saw those scholarships as God’s grace, and because we were men of God, we were going to change this world.”

Greg remembered. He was going to be the first millionaire in his family and Mark was going to be the first engineer in his family. Greg was also going to build affordable housing once he made it big. Twenty years later, he was still making millions, but he had not made good on his promise. Now, his friend Mark was proof that he had failed. Mark delivered on his promise by risking his life and now he was living on the street because of it. Greg made no sacrifices and had more money than he could possibly need in a lifetime. Yet, he still felt empty. Now, he knew why. What was he going to do?

“Yo man, don’t get all sappy on me now. We were kids. We made good on our promises. We did good. Don’t you dare beat up on yourself,” Mark tried to shift the mood in the car.

“No, you did good. I just made a lot of money. That needs to change,” Greg was resolute. Sitting in that car with his friend, he knew that his millions had to be put to better use than the latest gadget or newest car. While he didn’t know how, he knew that something had to change. His friend was the inspiration for that. With God’s grace, he was going to change the world.

Prompt for Thought: If you were Greg, how would you change the world? Even if you don’t have Greg’s millions, how can you change the world with what you do have? 

Prayer for the Journey: God, thank you for blessing us richly. Whether we have houses and land to give or just a kind word in our hearts to share. Through your grace, help us to make this world a better place. In Jesus’ name, Amen.