After baptism, then what?
Acts 2 The 3000 baptized are part of a gathering. They are part of a community that emerges from the warped and broken world around them. They are the church they dont join it as if it is something that exists apart from them.
Their organization is based on the way they live. Luke mentions the following characteristics of this community.
They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lords Supper), and to prayer.
These are the signs of life of a community that shares in the life of Christ. These are not checklist items from opening up a franchise for the Church.
Fellowship and Sharing
I want to ask you to think about something: What does it mean for us to share in all things as a congregation. Not simply on an individual level, but on a congregational level. What does it mean for every ministry and every program here to be working together, sharing and pulling together for a common cause? Do you think it might look like the church in Acts 2 that had all things in common?
Now think about that and ask yourself if thats us. I will make a couple of observations. You dont have to agree with me. If I am wrong or if you think Im wrong, thats okay. I dont have a bone to pick with anybody. I just wonder how true the following may be ...
I sometimes wonder if all our wonderful ministries sometimes get competitive. Maybe we feel that an emphasis on benevolence robs from evangelism. Or we become divided over which ministry is more effective. Instead of feeling like a church family we begin to feel like networks competing for viewers.
I wonder if we get anxious in our demographic groups. Sometimes we feel that an emphasis on the needs of the elderly push aside the needs of the youth. Or we feel that emphasis on the youth ignores the importance and wisdom of the older ones.
There are a lot of combinations for this spirit of competition. I think we suffer from this spirit. Im not surprised. Its a function of our culture ... Did you know that Colt McCoy and Sam Bradford are friends? OU fans and Texas fans have given them a hard time about it. They are not happy that these on-the-field competitors can have off-the-field unity. You see in our worldly thinking, one has to rise and the other has to fall. But thats not the Spirit of the Lord.
This spirit of competition is something prevalent in our culture and we need to guard against it. It can creep into our church culture. But I think we can do something about this if we get in step with the spirit of the Lord. Peter preaches that when the spirit of the Lord breaks out in a group, the young men will see visions and the old men will dream dreams. And men and women both will be servants and they will all prophesy. (Acts 2:17-18, taken from Joel 2:28-32).
We need to excel at sharing all things in one spirit. I dont just mean sharing our lawnmowers, our casserole dishes, and toys. I mean sharing our ministries because we believe they are all Gods works. Thats what one another church family looks like. When one rejoices we all rejoice, when one hurts we all hurt.
Now you dont have to agree with me that this is a problem here. Thats fine. I could be wrong. I am more concerned if you agree with me that this is a problem and your initial thought is, Hes right and I hope that person or those elders or those ministers would pay attention. If this is what you are thinking then I want you to reel that in and ask yourself, What do I need to do to share everything? Lets all follow that line of inquiry and reflection.
I believe that we can replace the spirit of competition with the spirit of the Lord.
Prayer It is more than simply asking God for help. Prayer is worship. Notice that the church comes together in one place but also in homes. When they are at table enjoying hospitality, they are worshipping. When they ate their meals with joy and generosity, they are worshipping. When they are praising God and creating goodwill in their community, they are worshipping. And the result is salvation.
We are not leaving worship today. We will leave this building and this assembly time will end. But dont think for a second that we are leaving worship. Not if we believe that God is at work among us.
Link to next sermon
Link to other sermons of Chris Benjamin