With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. (v. 33)

Acts 4:32-35 Monday 4 May 2020

Psalm: Psalm 33:1-12


I’m writing this from our locked-down society, and you are almost certainly reading this within a locked-down society. Yet a society that is looking to release and freedom.

That makes this passage interesting, relevant and challenging. It follows the reaction to the release of Peter and John from being locked up. In the previous section (verses 23-31), we saw the amazing prayer responding to being released on the condition of not talking about Jesus. That prayer asked God for courage to be bold in speaking and acting, for God to be active in healing, signs and wonders.

Luke goes straight from that prayer for boldness to talk about how they chose to live after release, while under the threat of further imprisonment. I believe he is intentional in this, he wants to show this as a conscious choice, a response.

The response to the (temporary) freedom is to give up the freedom and control bought by their possessions. As they give up that individualised freedom and power over their own futures we see a paradox. As so many in Christian discipleship – when they give up personal freedom and power they find new power and freedom together in God. There is huge potential for freedom when your security from hunger, illness, etc, doesn’t rely on yourself but is held by a community. When power comes from a community of faith, in the power of the Spirit, power that isn’t for self, then the world is changed and we see again that the power of love is greater than any darkness.

As we look to an end to locked-down society, there are competing views of priorities and goals. Decisions to be made about what the new, post-pandemic society should look like. Who should make the decisions and who should benefit? The rich and privileged for themselves or a wide, inclusive, sharing community for all? Does this idealised (maybe short-lived) model of Christian community have something to teach us? How might we live as a community that frees us to speak with great power as we give our testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, to new life, to love and service? To do so with great grace, with undeserved, unearned, selfless love. 


To Ponder:

  • In a new world that could be full of fear and insecurity, what might this small group faced with fear and insecurity have to teach us?
  • Should we be taking this passage as a spiritual or practical example? Why and how?
  • If this style of community didn’t last very long in the Early Church, does that mean we should or shouldn’t follow it today? Why?
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