“Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power, the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”
“Our relations with one another are like a stone arch, which would collapse if the stones did not mutually support each other, and which is upheld in this very way.” Seneca
We witness something beautiful, noteworthy, and inspiring when something is working perfectly as designed. When a car is running “on all cylinders” we can feel the comfort, power, and thrill in how it sounds and handles.
I worked in a body shop for a short time before I headed off to seminary in my 20’s. Most of my responsibilities there consisted of sanding, sweeping, and doing general grunt work. One day my boss gave me a treat by allowing me to deliver a convertible jaguar to its owner after we had repainted it. It was a thing of beauty – tan leather interior, candy apple red coat with 18K gold trim. I floated down the coastal road, top-down listening to Acoustic Alchemy on the CD player (extremely rare and expensive at the time), and marveled at the craftsmanship. There were notable differences between this chariot of the gods and the Toyota Carolla FX that I was used to driving.
The image we have of the early church in the first few chapters of Acts is of humanity at its best. We see the brand new bride of Christ running on all cylinders, evidenced not by flashy buildings or prominence in the community, but by selfless service, sacrifice, and genuine love for each other. The unity of the church had not yet been jostled out of alignment by competing agendas, a scarcity mentality, or diversions from its main purpose – furthering the gospel.
We look back at this era and hold it as the standard of what the church should be. If we are fortunate and communally focused on what is truly and eternally important we may see something similar in our own fellowships, but sadly that is not the typical scenario. We hold back, protect ourselves, cling to our rights and every once in a while pray for revival in the land. But we must be the ones to change our hearts, our focus, and our actions. We were crafted for better.
- What is at the base of those things that would hold us back from being what we, as the church should be?
- What would it look like if you and I had the attitude of the believers in the early church?
- What are you willing to do to start in that direction?
Highlight – what words or phrases jump out at you
Explain – what does the passage mean?
Apply – how does the passage intersect with your life today?
Respond – how is God leading you to respond?