(3 Minute Read)
A couple of weeks ago I read through the book of Acts. I’d never actually read it in-depth so I decided to spend the first couple of weeks post-Easter diving into what the disciples and followers of Jesus did right after his resurrection.
I was blown away by what I discovered.
So I want to share some of what God taught me with you, because I think all of it is very relevant for us today. Most of this is for churches, and the people within them, but I think it is encouraging for anyone, the skeptic or the disciple of Jesus.
- The church is a collectivist community—giving and receiving without any thought of our own need. This is a model that would be hard to adopt, at least in the current American culture, but I believe we would see deep growth and life-change happen if we did.
- The Old Testament is still relevant and is not “gone” or to be ignored by us, contrary to what I have thought before. It tells the complete story, the whole history, of why Jesus is our Savior.
- When you become a part of the church, which is the most natural, and probably important step to take after coming into relationship with Jesus, you are then set “under” the pastoral leadership of that church—your role is to honor this headship through your service, your words, and your actions. The Pastoral role, on the other hand, is to lead in love, laying down their life for the congregation. We all rely ON EACH OTHER, like a family does. Therefore, our actions and our decisions flow through this headship, and community that is the church. There is more responsibility, and thus more of a call to leadership for the Pastor, and there is more of a call for the congregation to be honoring.
- The Holy Spirit is the Church’s Leader. He is also the individual church’s Leader, and our own personal Leader. Relationship with Him is our lifeline and our source. We are baptized in Him and we baptize others in Him–this is another natural step after coming into relationship with Jesus.
- When we feel we are being called or led into a new endeavor of ministry (possibly a new city or a new ministry role) there is a process to it. There is both a calling, and a sending. We are called BY the Spirit, and sent BY the Church. That disrupts all of the “individualistic faith” thoughts and decisions I’ve ever made, and I think that’s the point. We don’t make decisions by ourselves because our decisions don’t just affect ourselves. There’s something beautiful about a united, collective church that believes and wants the same things. When our love for Jesus is more important than anything, we’ll listen for the voice of His Spirit no matter whether we like what He’s saying or not. Again, it’s about honoring one another and letting Holy Spirit be our ultimate source of Truth.
- If something challenges you or your current thinking, that’s good! Don’t get jealous or angry. “Exam scripture to see if it is so,” instead of getting defensive and writing them off as a false-teacher, or something else.
- We all have some Pharisaic ways in us (jealousy, blind to our ill-thinking, fear of things that’ll change us, only showing the “good” side of us to the world), but we need to move past this hypocrisy and, most likely, let go of our own thinking in exchange for the thoughts of Christ–truth, nobility, righteousness, purity, love, admiration–AND the fruit of His Spirit which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
- Honor is one of the greatest mantles we can carry, both in our life and especially toward others. It’s how people will know we follow Jesus. Even if we don’t AGREE with someone we must HONOR them, always. I’m forever haunted by the words of Jon Tyson who says that, “as Christians we already have more in common with other Christians that we disagree with politically, than people who we align with politically but are not Christians.” The Church–all of the church–is Christ’s bride, we need to honor one another more than anything.
- The Gospel is clearly defined—Jesus the Messiah (the LORD Yahweh), suffered and died, then rose from the dead and imparted His Spirit as the Spirit for ALL of humanity, Jew and non-Jew–there is no segregation or separation between race or creed–so that ALL shall be saved from sin, and have resurrection life flowing in them NOW and FOREVER. All of this is the Good News of God.
- And lastly, when those who are typically theologically or philosophically pitted against one another unite to come against you, you are probably on the right track of sharing God’s Good News! Disruption to the traditional beliefs or “guidelines” of faith causes us all to be shaken up a little. However, only those who are adamant about their own promotion will resort to persecuting you. This isn’t to say that whenever you are feeling persecuted it’s because you are doing God’s work. That’s definitely not always the case. Sometimes you are being persecuted because you are being a jerk, and being a jerk is not from God. But I’m certain if the persecution you face is a result of you listening to Holy Spirit and following His voice, you can rest in the knowledge that you are doing what is right, and God has you protected.
I hope this encourages you as it did me. God is incredible in how He works in our lives.