I love the picture this passage depicts. A place where you are known and accepted. A place where needs are met. A place where the good news about Jesus is talked about, celebrated and shared with others. A place where faith can grow and flourish. A community. This is what the early church was like and this is our heritage.
People were drawn to the early church because of what they saw among its people. They saw kindness and gentleness being lived out daily in the midst of struggles and hard times. They saw generosity of spirit and possessions as the people worked together to meet the needs of the community. They saw the tangible expression of love. Jesus had said himself in John 13:35 that love was to be the defining characteristic of his followers: Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” A watching world saw love in those early believers and they flocked to it. Their love pointed the way, not to a good man or prophet who had died, but a Savior who lives.
I shudder to think what the world frequently sees from those of us who profess to be Christ followers today. It seems as though we are often more known for what we hate than what we love. That’s not the way it was supposed to be. Jesus’ words to us as his followers haven’t changed just because it’s 2016; we are still called to love. We are still called to be kind-hearted and generous. We are still called to be gentle and gracious. Maybe even more so now than ever before.
The things that drew thousands of people to the early church and allowed the message of Jesus to spread over the face of the earth, are the same things that would accomplish that today. As Christ followers, we are called to live our lives in such a way that people are drawn to us to see what makes us different. Each and every day you and I have opportunities to point to Jesus by the way we live our lives and by the way we treat others. Is there evidence of God’s Spirit at work within us? Am I more loving today than I was last week? Do I carry a sense of joy with me that has zero to do with my circumstances? Am I yielding and surrendering my life to Jesus Christ every single day? Do the things that break the heart of God break mine too? A watching world that is in desperate need of the hope we carry is waiting to see.
Executive Director of Education and Outreach