“And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. And everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.” Acts 2:42-43
This description of the early church in the apostle Luke’s account never ceases to stir my heart. In the margin of my Bible, I once wrote: ‘The sign of a committed church,’ probably in response to a sermon I had heard. Often as I come to this passage I reflect on how our church measures up in relationship to the verse.
Yesterday was a different story. Throughout the morning I was in awe at the things I observed during our worship service: A musician just back from the mission field, playing his instrument with renewed passion. An overflow of donated school supplies on the steps to the platform. The prayers of my friend’s daughters, who had been invited to participate as part of Family Worship Month.
As we came to a time of communion, I was actually reminded of this verse as I observed interactions between people in the pews with people who were making their way down the aisles. We always have an exuberant time of ‘family greetings’ each Sunday, but this was something entirely different.
In those few short moments I saw people reach out of the pews to greet one another: the young man who had fallen ill while at a sports competition in a foreign country, whom we had prayed for, was now home and on the mend with an incredible story of God’s grace and mercy; the couple who had been very active in revitalizing our small group ministry before moving away to be nearer to their children and grandchildren had come for a visit; the woman whose daughter had passed away recently from cancer attending with her son and daughter-in-law.
Tears sprang to my eyes as I saw hand after hand reach out to greet, comfort, and love on one another. And the delight and care that passed from person to person. All this after hearing a powerful sermon from Oxford University mathematician, and one of the premier apologists of our day, Professor John Lennox on the power of God to transcend the laws of nature ~ gravity to be specific ~ such that He was able to miraculously raise Jesus from the dead. And how that foundational truth of our faith is proven by Luke’s description as he reiterated that it had been seen, observed, witnessed by many. Now these witnesses were taking the gospel into a sick and hurting world, as Lennox pointed out, taking the word of God which was increasing such that the church was growing.
It was not lost on me, however, as I found myself sitting next to my friend whose wife was at home with her father, sitting vigil by his bedside as he succumbs to Alzheimer’s, that when Lennox spoke of the equally miraculous return of Jesus, yet to come, we must continue to devote ourselves to the word and to one another. There is still much sickness and hurt that needs to be covered by the resurrection power of Jesus Christ.
We were reminded by the Professor, that we each have been invited to participate in this gospel so that others will see, observe and witness the difference our Savior’s miraculous resurrection has made in our lives. The difference it can make in their lives. Participation requires commitment. A commitment to God’s word, and a commitment to His people.
Yesterday, I was truly in awe of my brothers and sisters who modeled that kind of commitment. A commitment to love one another, a commitment to provide for the community, a commitment to share God’s love in a hurting world. Don’t know that I’ve ever been prouder to be a part of the bread-breaking, praying, awe-sensing Church … I hope you are too!
Rejoicing with you,