December 30th, 2006
When the church is functioning properly, something which sets it apart from anything else in our world is the amazing sense of community and intimacy and love which can be shared between believers. That early community was not a perfect community, but it provided a snapshot of features which are supposed to be present in any Christian community. The church is supposed to be a place of contagious love and enthusiasm. It’s supposed to be a place of spontaneous and overflowing generosity. It’s supposed to be a place where the poor and the unlovely and the outcasts can find love.
The Acts of the Apostles — Chapter 2
2:1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were gathered together in one place. 2:2 Suddenly there came from the sky a sound like the rushing of a mighty wind, and it filled the house where they were sitting. 2:3 Tongues of fire appeared and were distributed so that one sat on each of them. 2:4 They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit gave them the ability to speak. 2:5 Some devout Jewish men, from every nation under the sky, were living in Jerusalem. 2:6 When this sound was heard, a crowd gathered, and they were confused because everyone heard their own languages being spoken. 2:7 They were amazed and surprised, saying to each other, “Aren’t all the people who are speaking Galileans? 2:8 Why can each of us hear them speaking in our own native language? 2:9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and people from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, 2:10 Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, the parts of Libya around Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and converts, 2:11 Cretans and Arabians: we hear them speaking in our languages about the mighty works of God!” 2:12 They were all amazed and perplexed, asking each other, “What does this mean?” 2:13 Others, mocking, said, “They are filled with new wine.”
2:14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, spoke to them in a loud voice, “You people from Judea, and all you who live in Jerusalem, listen to my words and understand what I’m saying. 2:15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose, as it is only 9am. 2:16 But this is what was predicted by the prophet Joel:
2:17 “‘It will be in the last days, says God, that I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and your daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions. Your old men will dream dreams. 2:18 Yes, and on my servants both male and female in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they will prophesy. 2:19 I will show wonders in the sky above and signs on the earth beneath, blood, and fire, and clouds of smoke. 2:20 The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and glorious day of the Lord comes. 2:21 Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
2:22 “People of Israel, hear these words! Jesus of Nazareth was publicly endorsed to you by God through mighty works and wonders and signs which God did through him in front of you, as you yourselves know. 2:23 By the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, he was handed over and you crucified and killed him with the help of lawless men, 2:24 but God raised him up, and released him from the agony of death, because it was not possible for him to be imprisoned by it. 2:25 David said this about him: ‘I saw the Lord always in front of me, because he is at my right hand, so that I should not be disturbed. 2:26 So my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced. My body will live in hope, 2:27 because you will not leave my soul in Hades, and you will not allow your Holy One to see decay. 2:28 You made known to me the ways of life. You will make me full of gladness with your presence.’
2:29 “Brothers, I can tell you confidently that our ancestor David died and was buried, and his tomb is still here for us to see today. 2:30 He was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that from his physical descendants he would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne. 2:31 Foreseeing this he spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that his soul was not left in Hades, and his body did not decay. 2:32 This Jesus was raised up by God, and we all are witnesses to that. 2:33 He has been lifted up to the right hand of God. He received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, which he has poured out as you now see and hear. 2:34 David did not ascend into the heavens, but he said, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit by my right hand, 2:35 until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”‘ 2:36 So all the house of Israel should know for sure that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
2:37 When they heard this they were cut to the heart and asked Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” 2:38 Peter said, “Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 2:39 The promise is for you, and your children, and all who are far away, as many as the Lord our God will call to himself.” 2:40 He told them many other things and encouraged them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!”
2:41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized. About three thousand people joined their number that day. 2:42 They eagerly followed the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and prayer. 2:43 Awe filled everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 2:44 Those who believed were together, and shared everything with each other. 2:45 They sold their possessions and distributed the proceeds to everyone, according to their needs. 2:46 Day by day they kept meeting eagerly together in the temple, and breaking bread at home. They took their meals with gladness and generosity of heart, 2:47 praising God, and having favour with all the people. Daily the Lord added those who were being saved to their group.
Entry Filed under: Generosity