The Hope of the World (Acts 2:42-47)
I was so excited to see that the assigned passage for today – Friday, May 29 – is one of my favorite passages of scripture. As a preacher, I don’t think I am supposed to have favorite passages of scripture, but I do. In fact, Acts 2:42-47 is on my Mount Rushmore of bible passages, alongside Micah 6:8, Galatians 2:20, Ephesians 2:8-10, and John 1:14.
You may be asking, “What makes Acts 2:42-47 worthy of a place on the Mount Rushmore of Bible passages?” That is a fair question. It is one of my favorite passages of scripture because it describes the mission and purpose of the local church in a way that no other passage of scripture does. If you were ever wondering what the church should be doing, this is the place to start looking. It is a passage of scripture that can inspire a local church to re-imagine how it goes about being the church. It is a passage of scripture that can make you question whether you are doing church based on your own preferences or on the purpose of the church described in scripture.
It also points to the potential that the local church has if it lives into the purpose described for the church. It fills me with hope as I think about what our church could be and do if we live into the purpose of the church.
What, according to Acts 2, is the purpose of the church? The church is to devote itself to the “apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer… give to anyone who has need.” That’s five simple things. First, be devoted to the apostles’ teaching; we might call that discipleship or spiritual formation. Second, be devoted to fellowship, the sharing of our lives with one another. Third, be devoted to the breaking of bread; this isn’t just the Lord’s supper, but also the action of sharing meals with one another. Fourth, be devoted to prayer. Lastly, be devoted to giving to anyone who has need.
What happens when the church does all these things? The book of Acts says that the “Lord adds to their number those who are being saved.” The early church didn’t have any fancy buildings or programming. They didn’t have elevated social status or influence. They were simply people who were faithful to their calling and people who were far from God found their way to God by grace because of it.
Dr. Gilbert Bilezikian, a retired theology professor, used to say often “The local church is the hope of the world.” When the local church fulfills its purpose it can accomplish things that no government agency, business, or social institution can. It can call people to grace, lead people to transformed lives that transform the world around them. It is my sincere hope that we, by committing to faithfully fulfilling our calling as a local church, may be a beacon of hope in Union County.