17 April 2015Acts 2:42-47
“Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common.” (vv. 43-44)
Psalm: Psalm 138
The outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-12) and subsequently Peter's inspired preaching (Acts 2:14-36) had caused quite a stir in Jerusalem and an embryonic community was forming, albeit quite a large one, with 3,000 people signing up after Peter's sermon. And already we see a community displaying the hallmarks of Church - teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayers (verse 42). Extraordinary and awesome things were happening in this community - signs and wonders - but perhaps what was most remarkable was the tangible commitment to the common good.
Here in this newly-formed community and quite volatile context people were prepared to sell what they had and pool the proceeds, holding all things in common and providing for those in need. Clearly something profound and transformational was occurring and it is difficult to imagine it happening without the work of the Holy Spirit. God was sweeping through the hearts and minds of individuals and shaping them into a dynamic and radical community.
No wonder Jesus' followers were spending so much time together and enjoyed the goodwill of the people; it was intoxicating and infectious. They met together in the Temple, which was a large community space, and also in smaller groups in each other's homes. The exuberance was there for all to see but so was the care and the conviction. Glad and generous hearts overflowed in praise to God along with a deep commitment to one another.
The words and the deeds of this community were equally persuasive and attractive - but there was something else here - someone else here who was lifting this experience onto a new plane and filling the people with a sense of awe and wonder. The Holy Spirit of God was making this a Spirit-filled community, centred on Jesus Christ - and it was the Lord who was inspiring them, and who, day by day, was adding to their number those who were being saved (verse 47).
- What hallmarks of Church can you identify in this passage and how are they still being experienced today?
- How might this radical expression of community inform your own understanding of how people live together - in Church and in wider society?
- What makes a community attractive to you?