This issue of The Lookout is about beginnings: the beginning of the church, the spread of the gospel, the ministry of Paul, and the inclusion of non-Jewish believers into God’s kingdom.
Acts 2, the first text we study in this issue, tells us how the church began and how the first followers of Christ lived, served, and worshiped. Verses 43-47 show us how the early Christians lived out their newfound devotion to Christ, giving us a pattern we can emulate today.
They Were Amazed (v. 43)
The first Christians felt a sense of wonder at their newly found faith in Christ. This faith wasn’t inherited from a previous generation. It wasn’t routine or obligatory. Their faith opened the door to experiences that filled them with awe.
They Were United (v. 44)
The first Christians “were together.” Not all lived in the same place, but all were part of the same community. They loved, encouraged, and supported one another. They “had everything in common.” A spirit of unity pervaded the lives and relationships of these early believers.
They Were Generous (v. 45)
When needs arose, the church responded. Many who had property and goods sold them and used the money to help their brothers and sisters in Christ. I get the impression that no possession was so valued that it couldn’t be relinquished for another.
They Were Together (v. 46)
They met daily in the temple courts and shared meals together in each other’s homes. While these new believers had much to learn about life in the body of Christ, they knew immediately that they needed to spend time together.
They Were Joyful (v. 46)
Whatever these new Christians did, they did with glad hearts. And why not? As Peter later explained, they had received “new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” and as a result were “filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy” (1 Peter 1: 3, 8).
They Were Authentic (v. 46)
The first Christians acted with sincere hearts. No masks. No pretentious posturing. Everyone in the fellowship was the same—a sinner saved by grace. They had little to gain politically, socially, or economically by becoming Christians. In fact, it cost many of them dearly. Those who made the commitment to follow Christ did so for one reason—it was the right thing to do.
They Were Grateful (v. 47)
The early disciples expressed their gratitude to God through their praise. Worship was neither a service nor a duty to these enthusiastic disciples. It was a response—a natural reaction to the grace and mercy of God. They must have felt so overwhelmed by their new relationship with God that they were compelled to celebrate it as often as they could.
They Were Honorable (v. 47)
Not everyone who heard Peter’s gospel message at Pentecost became a disciple of Jesus Christ. In fact, many who did not respond became hostile toward Christianity. But for a while, the new believers enjoyed “the favor of all the people.” I’d like to think their transformation was so genuine, their character so unblemished, that even those who rejected Christ held them in high regard—at least for a time.
God isn’t asking the twenty-first century church to be a carbon copy of the first century church. But certainly we can learn from the first Christians. Let’s keep our eyes fixed on Christ, the blessings he provides through his atonement, his resurrection, his abiding presence, and his promised return, and let’s live daily in ways that express our love, gratitude, and devotion to him.