Acts 2:41-47

Readings for this week May 18 – 22
Click here for a pdf of this week’s readings

Day 1 – Spirit and Community Together

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Acts 2:41

Three thousand people. Three thousand. Something about what the early followers of God were doing and saying was resonating with people in a way that compelled these people to find out more and actually open their lives up to the possibility of radical change. This small group of until very recently frightened and confused followers of Jesus was now boldly proclaiming the good news of the coming of Jesus and all that God had done through him. A story that had seemed so full of promise, only to be brought to a devastating, shuddering halt, before being miraculously, amazingly climaxed with the raising to life of the son of God himself, was now being shared with the world by people who had only just themselves been given the key to understand the story.

We must always remember that God is calling all people back to him. The Holy Spirit is calling and speaking to people, drawing them to Jesus. Three thousand people – that has to be the work of the Spirit; it certainly doesn’t seem like the natural outcome of a concerted outreach programme initiated by the disciples! But Peter still needed to be brave and stand up and share the story of Jesus with the people who were there. We need to be sharing our lives and stories with people; we need to be praying for people and collaborating with God in welcoming people back to his embrace and into the community of his people. By his Spirit – the same Spirit working through us – his kingdom is coming.

Questions to Consider
How have you seen the Holy Spirit calling to others who don’t yet know him? How has God been at work in the lives of others through you?

Prayer
Lord God, once you spoke to me, who had never heard your voice before, and called me to you, offering me new love and new life. May my life be a part of the way you call others to you today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 2 – A Full Time Occupation

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Acts 2:42

For the original followers of Jesus, following him was everything. Membership in the community wasn’t a part-time affair, it wasn’t something they did when they felt like it. Casual membership was not an option. The original disciples had dropped everything when they had answered his call to “come follow me”, leaving families and homes and jobs in order to follow him fulltime. Following Jesus wasn’t something that ‘happened’ maybe once or twice a week, something else to be fitted into a busy schedule if it was convenient. It was a way of life. What we read about in our Acts passage this week is how they went about living as followers of Jesus together. Their example shows us Jesus’ plan for his community of followers. They met together every day. There were a number of things they did when they met, things they saw as vital for maintaining community life—eating, praying, teaching and worshipping.

This sharing of meals and possessions, and praying together—these were not the actions of a group of people who were only following Jesus occasionally and only mixing with each other when they had to. They were the actions of people intimately involved in each other’s lives and bound together by continuing faithfulness to God. The early followers of Jesus didn’t simply make discipleship a part-time add on to their already busy lives, like a hobby indulged in only occasionally. Discipleship was a fulltime, all-of-life activity. Their whole lives were transformed. God and his people became the focus around which everything else revolved.

Question to Consider
Why can’t discipleship be part-time?

Prayer
Father, thank you for your church. Thank you that you do not ask us to follow you on our own. Help me share more of myself with my community and help my community share more of you with the world. Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 3 – A Community Eliciting Awe and Amazement

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Acts 2:43

So often today it seems that the only time the church turns the heads of the general public is when the followers of Jesus (collectively or individually) do something horrible and reprehensible or, if we are lucky, merely ridiculously laughable and embarrassing. We make the news for the wrong reasons (rightly condemned historic sins) and often say and do things that actually turn people off the gospel and the church (all too common displays of unloving and uncompassionate behaviour, or displays of “love” that demand others sacrifice rather than us offering love through our sacrifice for others). Obviously there is much that we do get right but it seems that these failures are what often stand out for others today.

It might seem incredible to us today, but we would do well to remember that one effect of the growth of the early church was the sense of awe and amazement that it engendered within so many of the people who witnessed it from the outside. The general citizenry were amazed by what they saw occurring within this strange new community of people. The manner in which these followers of Jesus were living, the way they gathered together so regularly, what they did when they gathered, the beliefs they seemed to have no hesitation in sharing – all of these things put together created a community and a presence that turned heads and produced reactions of astonishment – and desire, a desire to find out and experience more.

Question to Consider
When have you seen such awe for the church’s work created in others?

Prayer
Heavenly Father, work through me and my community to produce in others the awe that will compel them to find out more about you and the new community you are building. Guide us and inspire us so people can see you as you truly are. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 4 – Looking After Everyone

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Acts 2:44-45

The early followers of Jesus weren’t trying to lay down a new economic program for all to follow. They weren’t trying to set up an “all for one, one for all” commune. They weren’t trying to come up with a set of hard and fast rules for new converts to adhere to. So much has been written about just these two verses, much of it beside the point or just simply oblivious to what was really going on. The first followers of Jesus were simply attempting to share life together in a way they thought was most consistent with what it meant to live in the power of the Holy Spirit as the body of Christ on earth. What should the community of God’s people look like? How should the community organise itself in order to best be able to witness to the transformative power of the risen Christ? How were they to look after each other?

With so many new believers coming from so many different socio-economic strata, they needed to ensure that all were being looked after, from the rich and well-off and comfortable, to the poor and orphaned and marginalised. That was their bottom line. All were to be looked after. All were to be able to find a place in this new community. They realised that their membership in the family of God cut across all other social barriers, and that being in the family meant looking after other family members, and giving whatever was needed from their own possessions to help those in need.

Questions to Consider
What would it look like for the church to live out these verses today? What would need to change? How would you and others go about it?

Prayer
Sovereign Lord, inspire us to care more and offer love in ways we may not have thought possible. Push us to go deeper, to love more, to offer more of ourselves and what we have. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 5 – The Rhythms of the Community

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Acts 2:46-7

The early Christians met together regularly, both at the temple and in their homes. The implication is that they also continued to take part in worship at the temple too. We should not be surprised at this. Theological questions about the replacement of temple sacrifices by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross had obviously not yet arisen, and the fact that the early Christians believed that through Jesus they had a direct relationship with God would naturally mean they would want to worship in the normal way. This would also allow them to be seen and to potentially share the gospel with other temple goers. And yet they also met together, in people’s homes, for their own religious gatherings.

Meeting together, breaking bread together, worshipping, learning and praying together – these activities were vitally important for the early church because without them they simply would not have survived as a community. These rhythms that they adopted kept them closely connected with God – the one who had called them and was forming and leading them – and closely connected with each other – the people God had called them to share life together with as his people on earth. These activities were also important in the way they created a community that proved puzzling and attractive to others. Seeing this loving community in action was a major catalyst in opening people’s ears to the call of God and attracting people to find out more – and to ultimately find a relationship with God himself, and a place in a new world-changing community.

Questions to Consider
What are the individual rhythms you have in your life? What rhythms are important for your community? Why?

Prayer
Father, help us be a community of love in action that others will see and be attracted by. Love is attractive; help us to love more. Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)