The book of Acts is devoted to discussing the first 35-30 years of the Christian community. It focuses on St. Peter and St Paul and their work in spreading the church from a community of 120 into a network of believers scattered throughout the Roman Empire. These two men move around the ancient world, and wherever they go, we see one thing in common – they are doing things to get themselves in trouble.
They were constantly getting into trouble because they were promoting a kingdom with different values than the world around it. They threw the places that they lived in upside down. They caused riots. They were arrested. They lived in ways that made people scratch their heads. These stories are filled with actions. These early Christians were not passive.
In Acts 2, after the Holy Spirit comes, we find that the church is characterized by the way that these Christians lived. We see the same thing in chapter 4. They lived in community; giving to each other, providing for each other’s needs. They sold things they didn’t need in order for their leaders to use these resources for the greater good of the community. They appointed people who would be responsible to make sure that the widows were taken care of. Their belief in Jesus has changed the way they live their lives.
They believed that Jesus had come to bring life, and everywhere they went the brought this life with them. Healings, feeding and providing for the poor, the empowerment of women, racial reconciliation were all part of the early churches ministry. The Gospel that the early Christians lived out was so powerful that it could not be ignored. It was so unsettling to the people around them, that people were afraid that the Christians were looking to completely destroy the culture of the Roman Empire; and they were right.
We are the descendents of Peter and Paul. We have been given the task of spreading the Gospel to the world. We have been charged with the task of following in the footsteps of these active, passionate followers of our risen Savior. The question is now how are we going to act? How are we going to spread the message that Jesus has been raised from the dead and now the world can live?
How will we react as a church to the economic crisis that we are now in the middle of? How will we respond to the crisis in the Middle East where both sides are guilty of hating each other? How will we react to the violence that is in our communities? To the children who are growing up with out a good family to support them? How will we react to those who are lonely?
Will ’09 be the year we bring them the Gospel message of Life? I hope so!