Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Life Shape Prayer & Discipleship Module 3 – New Creation Responsibilities Block 6 – Community


Key Scripture: Acts 2:44  Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common.

The book of Acts is a well researched and meticulously documented account of the Holy Spirit working in and through the lives of those who were the very first to believe and receive Jesus as Messiah, Savior, Lord and King. Some imagine the book of Acts to refer to the “Acts of the Apostles” however it may more accurately be understood as the “Acts of the Holy Spirit."

This historical document was written by Luke, the same person who was a traveling companion to the Apostle Paul and also penned the Book of Luke. Contrary to what many people may at first imagine, Luke was not one of the Apostles of Jesus. In fact, Luke was not even a Jew but was rather a Gentile, and the only Gentile to have his writings included in the New Testament.

Luke was evidently a very well educated medical doctor with a propensity towards research and documentation. Being so inspired by his Christian faith, he accepted it as his calling and duty to research and to record the recent historical facts of Jesus’ life, from His birth in Bethlehem to His death at Calvary. This constituted Luke’s first book, the Book of Luke.

However, Luke’s inspiration and the call on his life did not end with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Luke felt compelled to also give an accurate and ongoing account of the continuing works of the Holy Spirit in and through the lives of the followers of Jesus. This record, much of it witnessed by Luke firsthand, provides eyewitness accounts of birth, growth and work of the first New Testament Church under the divinely inspired leadership of the Apostles who were personally discipled by Jesus and continually led by the Holy Spirit of Almighty God.

The writings of the “Beloved Physician” Luke not only give us an accurate, firsthand, eyewitness historical account of the first Church, but as well they provide each successive generation of Believers with an example to follow. Today we have the same duties, goals and responsibilities which were first laid on that first Church in Jerusalem near 2000 years ago. So, let’s continue to read Luke’s inspired record and embrace these accounts as God’s instructions for our lives.

Our key scripture reveals the mindset of a Believer and member of the Church of Jesus Christ in the earth. It is a true heart of unity. To help explain the heart, mind and attitude of these first Christians, we will use the word “Community” and break it down in its English spelling as though it were phonetically derived from two English words: Common Unity.

Acts 2 verse 44 describes this common unity among the Believers by saying that “all who believed were together and had all things in common." This portrays a shared togetherness which stood out and stood above individual protections, possessions and pursuits.

This particular scripture and the picture it paints has been difficult for many people to understand and embrace, especially people who have achieved some measure of success or wealth. It seems easier for people who are poor and needy to believe in a common bank of resources from which to draw daily needs than for someone who has so much to give and/or lose.

However, the truth of this scripture and its corresponding admonition is not a mandate for some hybrid form of socialism but rather it describes and encourages a common unity among Believers. As we continue to read the verses which follow we continue to find more common ground on which every Believer in Christ should stand.

You see, Church is God’s will and Church is God’s family designed for every Believer – and – Church is Community … a place where we are together and have things in common. Such common things as a:

·        Common Care for one another
o   Caring is sharing – either we are family or we are not!

Acts 2:45  And sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.

·        Common Commitments to God and each other

Acts 2:46  So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart

Acts 2:47  Praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

·        Common Culture
o   A Kingdom Culture which stands above class, citizenship, ethnicity, economy, history and/or ego.
o   Embrace a new identity …
o   Be nice and kind and like Christ to “all the people” – not just those like us. This opens the door for God to add His children to our Church family. (They may not all be just like us …)  
o   Without regard as to our former culture, customs, traditions, or general habits of life, we need embrace a Kingdom culture and begin to identify with and develop the new nature and the new responsibilities we have received as a New Creation in Christ.

Important Points
1.   God wants every Believer to have a Church home.
a.   Acts 2:44 Now all who believed were together …
b.   “Were together” literally means “were in the same place”
2.   Church is a Community of Believers joined together by God.
3.   It is every Believer’s responsibility to develop and demonstrate a:
a.   Common Care for one another
b.   Common Commitment to one another
c.   Common Culture with one another

God wants to use us to build His family as a community of Believers in every city, town and village, unified in heart, mind, passion and purpose.