WEEK THREE, DAY TWO, COMMON ENGLISH BIBLE COMPANION
WEEK THREE THEME: COMMUNITY
DAY TWO THEME: GROWING IN COMMUNITY
SCRIPTURE: ACTS 2:29-47 (CEB)
“Brothers and sisters, I can speak confidently about the patriarch David. He died and was buried and his tomb is with us to this very day. Because he was a prophet he knew that God promised him with a solemn pledge to seat one of his descendants on his throne. Having seen this beforehand, David spoke about the resurrection of Christ, that he wasn’t abandoned to the grave, nor did his body experience decay.
This Jesus, God raised up. We are all witnesses to that fact. He was exalted to God’s right side and received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit. He poured out this Spirit, and you are seeing and hearing the results of his having done so. David didn’t ascend into heaven. Yet he says, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right side, until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.’ Therefore, let all Israel know beyond question that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.
When the crowd heard this, they were deeply troubled. They said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what should we do?’ Peter replied, ‘Change your hearts and lives. Each of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is for you, your children, and for all who are far away – as many as the Lord our God invites.’
With many other words he testified to them and encouraged them saying, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation.’ Those who accepted Peter’s message were baptized. God brought about three thousand people into the community on that day. The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers.
A sense of awe came over everyone. God performed many wonders and signs through the apostles. All the believers were united and shared everything. They would sell pieces of property and possessions and distribute the proceeds to everyone who needed them. Every day, they met together in the temple and ate in their homes. They shared food with gladness and simplicity. They praised God and demonstrated God’s goodness to everyone. The Lord added daily to the community those who were being saved.”
THE WORD OF GOD FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD – THANKS BE TO GOD!
SOAKING IT IN: Change is a very difficult thing! Sometimes it involves a lot of soul searching and living with the fact that I/we may have been wrong or bound by falsehoods that I/we had soaked in all our lives. Stepping back from tradition and “rearing” we have to ask ourselves the “why” about what we are holding so strongly on to. Change is never fun, but to be fully able to embrace the Kingdom of God, we have to let God challenge our hearts and ask ourselves those difficult “whys”. As we listen to the heart of God and look to the example of Jesus, we are able to see much more clearly and listen and learn and do better. Hatred and self-centeredness decrease as we take on the mind of Christ, and God’s Kingdom draws closer and closer!
Those gathered and hearing Peter’s spontaneous sermon that day had justified within theirselves the crucifixion of Christ. Some of this group were certainly also in the crowd encouraging Pilot with the shouts, “Crucify him, crucify him!” It was religious, it was political, it was the right thing to do then – but why? Some in that same crowd hearing Peter’s words, no doubt, had also been a part of another crowd witnessing Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem shouting “Hosanna, Hosanna!” In a crowd, it is easy to be swept up in emotion and not have the true conviction of the moment. However, later, when we are alone with out thoughts are we sure we know what we really believe and why. We may be uncertain and fearful of our choices and anxious over things that cannot be “undone”.
Immediately after the Apostles are filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of that first Pentecost, Peter found his voice and began to preach to the crowd gathered there. He boldly spoke of a David’s testimony to have seen Christ seated in Heaven at the right hand of God. This same Christ that the Jews had just crucified had been recognized long ago and witnessed by King David himself.
Peter’s sermon caused concern amongst those gathered there and they asked what they should do. Their hearts were stirred, and they found truth in what Peter was saying and they heard the testimony both of King David and now of the Apostles that Jesus is the Christ and that he has resurrected from the dead. They may have been wrong in their previous thoughts and actions about Jesus and now the regret that surely follows. We’ve all been there, we acted before having all the facts and ended up with a poor decision – now what do we do?
The Holy Spirit has come with full force, bringing enlightenment and excitement. When the crowd asked what they should do, Peter’s response was simple… “Change your hearts and lives”. Nothing can be done to change the crucifixion and the blindness to Christ the Messiah in earthly form. But now all things are possible through the Holy Spirit. It is not too late to accept the Messiah therefore changing both hearts and lives.
That day alone, through this testimony and instruction, God added over 3,000 souls to the congregation – the church – the community of Christ – is born! There was no doubt of each one’s right to become Christian – ALL who so desired were added – no time of screening to see if they could live up to the life of a Christian – no classes to make sure they were the right material for Christianity…they believed and began following after the ways of Christ – fully accepted and contributing to the good of the whole – Kingdom Living!
This, the beginning of the church was so pure and holy that they shared everything. Everyone was provided for in every way due the unselfishness of each other. They lived and functioned as community wholeheartedly serving one another and worshipping together in one Spirit and living harmonously.
God’s Spirit has a way of leveling the ground and allowing us to see each other through His eyes. The Lord does not see our faults or short comings and does not judge us as others do. The Lord welcomes our open hearts into his fold and lets our following Him be the change from that point on. As God’s people commit their paths to God, they learn more and more about what is to be held tightly and what is to be held loosly. Our daily living is now our testimony of Who Christ is in our lives. As we stay the path with our Father through His Holy Spirit, we live our faith out loud for all to see and witness and follow.
We can only follow well as we stay in touch with our Father and listen to his call upon our lives. No one else can find our call, it is up to us alone to do the work of discerning His path for us. But we can trust that path because it is God’s and He doesn’t send us out to fend for ourselves, but provides His Spirit to indwell our every breath and great folks along the way to share in our task, making the journey light and easy. God has created us for the very purpose of our call – let us embrace it and LIVE IT!
Help us, Lord, to hear your call on our lives and respond with eager hands and urgent hearts for Your Kingdom’s sake.