Monday, May 28, 2012

Acts 2

     The Christian movement begins. Following the death and resurrection and ascension of Jesus, the disciples wait for the promised Holy Spirit. With loud noise (like the rush of a mighty wind) and visible manifestations (tongues like fire) and a communications breakthrough (each one heard them speaking in their own native language) the Holy Spirit arrives and fills the 120 gathered in the upper room in Jerusalem. A huge crowd gathers to see what all the commotion is about and Peter, now the clear leader of the new movement, stands to deliver his first public sermon.
      Peter quotes Joel and the Psalms to explain what has just happened (and is, apparently, still happening). This is the promised outpouring that Joel prophesied. And, like all good preaching, his sermon turns to Jesus. Peter encourages the people to turn away from the life they were living and to turn toward the way of God found in Jesus. 3000 people did so.
     The end of Chapter 2 gives us a quick insight into the life of the early church. The early church focused on four things: 1) they devoted themselves to the Apostles teaching -- learning the story of Jesus from the eye witnesses is at the heart of the Christian experience; 2) they devoted themselves to fellowship -- the early church lived, worked and supported one another on this journey. Fellowship was more than coffee hour. Fellowship was encouraging, challenging, empowering one another in this new faith; 3) the breaking of bread -- clearly a communion image; and, 4) and to prayer -- this life is not just about information (learning the stories) it is about direct communion with God through Jesus Christ. We also learn that the fellowship and community aspect of the early church was lived in extreme ways: even to the point of setting personal possessions aside so that those in the community who were in need could be properly cared for.
     The final thing I see (47) is that they enjoyed the favor of the community. A church's reputation is an essential element of evangelism. When non Christian people see the church as hypocritical, disconnected, uncaring or judgmental -- our ability to introduce them to our Lord and Savior is critically diminished. I believe when we are doing what God has called us to do -- Love God with all we have, love one another as Jesus loved us and love our neighbors as our selves -- the wider community will see our authenticity and will desire to be a part of who we are and will want to know about this Jesus we proclaim.

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