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February 28, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”—Acts 2:42–47 (NIV)
I remember a season when my close friend’s two-year-old daughter was diagnosed with cancer, and how their community and many others around the world supported them throughout their journey. Today, by the grace of God, she’s cancer free and healthy! Their story is just one example of what a community on mission looks like.
Now, as amazing as my friend’s story is, there’s no better example of what a community on mission looks like than the one described in our passage today. Consider what we’re told about the early church:
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching . . .”
They grew in the knowledge of the truth that came to them through the teachings of the apostles regarding Jesus. This was the first and most important tie that bound them together. They shared a common faith that made them like a true family.
“All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts . . .”
This faith family was intentional and deeply committed to one another. We see this through their 1) acts of community (gathering together in homes, sharing meals together, quality time, friendship), 2) acts of common worship (prayer, studying the Word, assembling in the temple courts), and 3) acts of mutual kindness (sharing everything they had, selling possessions to support and take care of one another).
Their common faith made them a close family.
Their love for Jesus made them love one another.
Their growth in the knowledge of Jesus made them live like Jesus.
This is what Christian community should look like—people united by love for Jesus and driven by a passion for His kingdom. And listen, I promise you that within this group, there were men, women, Pharisees, tax collectors, criminals, prostitutes, adulterers, rebels against the establishment, and supporters of Caesar. But their eternally insignificant differences went by the wayside in the face of the beautiful bond they had with Christ that brought them together.
And look at what God did for this community: They enjoyed “the favor of all the people.” The way they lived and loved like Jesus caused them to be well thought of! Imagine that . . . They gave to all who had need; they were kind, generous, humble, and servant-hearted. They made the gospel attractive to the watching world, “and the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” I pray we’ll be able to closely emulate this community as we, too, strive to live in a community on mission!
PAUSE: Why was the early church in Acts 2 so effective? What traits, characteristics, and actions defined them and drew people in? Reflect on this and consider how you can emulate their example.
PRACTICE: This month, begin living out the defining traits of the early church. Grow in the Word with your church community, pray with them, do life together, serve others together, meet needs, show love, be unified, be humble, be generous like Jesus, and “put on love, which binds [everyone] together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:14 NIV).
PRAY: Father, help me to be a catalyst for unity and community within Your Church! Bring us together, Lord. Bring down the imaginary walls of division we’ve created for ourselves and remind us of the tie that binds us—the love of Your son Jesus and the mission to make disciples. Foster humility in us, a deep love for one another, and a renewed compassion for people in the world. Amen.