Unity and mutual care for one another…that’s what the early Church did on a daily basis. With steadfastness and faithfulness to the Gospel, they walked out their lives in very practical but focused ways. They approached each day with open hands and open hearts…looking for needs and filling them. The early Church was centered around goodwill towards others…of encouragement and sharing…of loving one another. And the Lord added to their numbers daily. For people saw the Gospel being played out in front of them and they wanted what these Believers had. The world is still looking for that today…for care, and compassion…for love and acceptance. For the Church of the present has the same responsibility and opportunity to impact the world for Christ as the early Church did…maybe even more.
It tells us earlier in Acts that, “All the Believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.” (Acts 2:44-45) This is how the early Church functioned…their inward focus was on unity and mutual care for one another. For they took the Lord’s charge to “Love one another” very seriously. And because of everyone’s personal commitment to “see a need, fill a need” …the early Church exploded. So I ask you, what would happen if all Believers committed to the “see a need, fill a need” directive…not waiting for someone else to do it, or thinking it’s only the Pastor’s responsibility? The early Church’s focus was on perfect unity and mutual care for one another…the Church today could only benefit from this same focus.
Peter and the other Believers with him couldn’t dispute what they witnessed in the house of Cornelius. The Holy Spirit was super-naturally poured out on the Gentiles while Peter was still mid-sentence, telling them about Jesus. Now Peter could have questioned this…”But Lord, these people are very different from us! We don’t have anything in common with them. They’re a different race and culture from us! Are You sure You know what You’re doing?” Sometimes, as fellow-Believers, we can find ourselves asking the same questions of those we find different from us. Yes, we may not share a lot…but we do have a common denominator…faith in Jesus Christ. Together we are one Body…one Church…united in our trust of our Savior…joined together eternally by our faith.
The Believers in Damascus had heard about Saul and his murderous threats against them. Ananias also knew Saul had traveled there with the authority from the Chief Priests to arrest them all. So you can imagine that Ananias had many excuses as to why he shouldn’t go and lay hands on this man…but God said, “Go!” And Ananias went. But somewhere between his house and the house where Saul was staying Ananias had a major heart adjustment. For when he greeted Saul, he called him Brother Saul. Brother meaning Saul had been accepted into the community of brothers and sisters in the Lord.
To me, doubt is the most debilitating and controlling weapon Satan uses against us. We can be the strongest of Christians with absolute trust and confidence in our Savior…but when the tiniest bit of doubt creeps into our minds, suddenly we’re filled with questioning, uncertainty, and apprehension. And a lot of these times it’s not that we’re doubting God …we’re doubting what God can to do through us. Self-doubt will stop God’s plans and purposes for our life…self-doubt is like telling the Lord, “You don’t know what you’re doing, I know better.” As Jesus told Thomas, “Stop doubting and believe.”
Living for Christ is hard…there’s no way around it. The moment you say “Yes” to Jesus, the world labels you as “One of those crazy religious people”. But it’s by those troubles we encounter that we learn perseverance and are forged into a willing vessel for God . And with each difficulty, we go from wounded to winner. As Oswald Chambers once said, “Do we appreciate the miraculous salvation of Jesus Christ enough to be our utmost for His Highest – our best for His glory?” Yes, the way is narrow and filled with difficulties, but just look where it leads.