No one had never seen anything like it before. It was exactly what the world needs, a community of people who were there because of Jesus, were devoted to God and through whom the Holy Spirit worked powerfully. No wonder they were filled with awe and those around them stood up and took notice!
The church age had begun. It was Jesus’ body come in new form to fill the earth and bring His good news to every living soul. It wasn’t an organisation that was given this task, nor was it a gathering that happened once a week. Rather it was people who had experienced a spiritual renewal as a result of the redemptive work of Jesus and who were united as brothers and sisters by the same Spirit, with a common cause.
They were to be God’s people on the face of this earth, living as His people, loving Him and one another and taking the good news to those who weren’t His people.
God had seeded this first church with the DNA that would define His perfect bride. It was a DNA that reflected the collective DNA of His disciples; those who would follow Jesus.
These disciples were passionate about their new found faith. They were self motivated and totally devoted to the things that would feed their GROWTH.
They were supernaturally natural, displaying the power of God in their daily lives as they used the GIFTS that the Holy Spirit had given them to powerfully love and minister to others.
They were outrageously generous, giving to any who had need as they displayed the sacrificial GENEROSITY that they had learnt from Jesus.
And they knew that they needed each other. They needed to be in proximity with each other to love and be loved, to learn and to teach, to encourage and be encouraged, to minister to the needs of others and to be ministered to, to be one body. And so they couldn’t stop GATHERING together in both small and large gatherings.
As God worked powerfully amongst them, bringing wholeness to their souls, they ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising Him. They took their joy and praise with them as they engaged with others in the broader community, and so enjoyed their favour.
And being carriers of God’s GRACE wherever they went, it’s no wonder that many were being saved and added to their number every day, becoming spiritually reborn followers of Jesus who in turn became addicted to the things that would help them grow in their faith and walk with Jesus.
It’s a beautiful picture that Acts 2:42-47 paints of that first church that ushered in the church age.
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:42-47
This is a snapshot, a blueprint for what God always intended church to be; a bunch of people forgiven by Jesus and following Him as they seek to develop through their commitment to GROWTH, in how they use their GIFTS to love an minister to others, in the way that they display outrageously GENEROSITY, in how they are devoted to regular GATHERINGS with each other, and become irrepressible carriers of God’s GRACE to others.
This is church as God intended. Church isn’t an institution. Its not a worship service. Its not a building. It’s a bunch of people who follow Jesus coming together in obedience to His commands to be His body, the body with which He will reach out with His love and cover the earth. It’s the body that will see even greater things happen than Jesus did when He walked the earth. It’s the body that we are called to be part of and to love.
It’s also the body that will astound not only people throughout the earth but the principalities and powers with it’s wisdom all the time displaying a love for all in a way that is just not natural. It’s supernatural.
We are not defined by where we meet, what we are called, the programs that we run what name we are know by, or even how we worship. Instead we are defined by Him and by following Him.
This is Christ’s body, His living and dynamic body, to which followers of Jesus are called to be a part.
Jesus extends an invitation to all to Follow Him and to become a part of His dynamic body through which He extends His love and wisdom to the world!
How will you respond to His call?
Most of us probably know something about the age old battle in the Garden of Eden between good and evil the consequences of which are still being felt today.
God had provided for Adam and Eve saying… “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Get 2:16,17 (ESV)
God gave them virtually no boundaries about what they could eat. They were permitted to eat anything, except the fruit of just one tree. It was a simple boundary, and God expected Adam and Eve to obey Him.
But then the devil came along in the form of a serpent.
His one goal was to get Adam and Eve to disobey God. And so he presented a dilemma in the garden, requiring Adam and Eve to make a choice to obey God, or to gain the fruit of the tree of knowledge.
And so “…the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:4,5 (ESV)
Satan promoted the lie that knowledge of good and evil would make them like God, and that this was better than obedience. Perhaps God had put down that boundary simply because he wanted to provide Adam and Eve with the opportunity to be obedient to what He had asked them.
And so there in the Garden, the battle lines were drawn. Obedience to the command of God or the tasting the fruit of the tree of knowledge. The thirst for knowledge drew Adam and Eve away from obedience. It was so tempting, and it was easier than obedience.
Gaining knowledge just requires a certain amount of intelligence, but obedience requires faith. That’s because obedience requires us to trust God, even when we feel like doing something else.
We know that knowledge is essential to obedience, but “knowledge without obedience seems to be the fruit that the church and many who call themselves Christian continue to eat.” (as D. L. Watson and P. D. Watson say in Contagious Disciple Making, p67)
And so the church and it’s members have often defaulted to basing discipleship around gaining knowledge rather than applying our knowledge through obedience.
As a result churches have gathered attenders hungry to be fed, rather than disciples keen to follow.
God gave Adam and Eve a simple test; to be obedient to what He asked them. They failed that test and so sin entered the world.
By His grace, God offers us forgiveness, to wipe the slate of our sin clean and give us a fresh start. And then He calls us to follow Him living life as a disciple of His; one where we are willingly obedient to His commands.
That’s the kind of loving relationship God wants with us. As Jesus said “If you love me, you will obey my commands” John 14:15. Obedience is God’s love language, and so the way that we disciple people must be to lead them into relationship with Him where we are all lovingly obedient to His commands.
Knowledge and the gaining of more knowledge is a wonderful thing, but it is of no value at all if we are not first obedient to what He asks.
The fruit of knowledge should always be obedient application. And that was the problem in the Garden of Eden, where obedience and knowledge became competing alternatives.
The quest for us today is be disciples who make disciples, by aligning our knowledge of God and His commands, in harmony with the way that we live them out, applying them to our lives in obedience to Him.
Please follow and like us:
I was reading the other day and was challenged to be someone who others would look at and see as being naturally spiritual. Not kooky spiritual, but being a naturally spiritual person.
The book said that often we go around looking for people who are open to us and receptive to a spiritual message, when in fact if we are naturally spiritual, they will often find us and be the ones who initiate a spiritual conversation.
Why? Because they are searching and see in us something that both attracts them and suggests that we have some of the answers to the spiritual questions that they have, but mightn’t even be able to clearly articulate. Of course, this assumes that we are living an authentic walk as a follower of Jesus so that we project Him in and through our lives.
David Watson (in his book Contagious Disciple Making) recounted how he once walked into an Asian village. As he entered the village for the first time, a man greeted him and asked him where he had been and why he had taken so long, and then told David that he and others were waiting to hear the message he had to bring. Apparently this man had a dream 20 years before of David entering the village and that dream had re-occurred over the years. God had gone in advance and prepared a person of peace who opened the whole village to the gospel.
That’s the thing. God does go in advance and prepares the hearts of those who are open to Him. And often it’s not so much a matter of us finding them, but of them finding us.
The people He prepares will be open to or even attracted to us, and hungry for spiritual answers.
Reflecting on this, that’s certainly been my experience and the experience of my wife Sharon and a number of others at Tailrace Community in more recent times.
When people know that you have a faith that is vibrant and natural; naturally supernatural, if those people like what they see, they will have questions and will often be drawn to you because they see that you have something that they are curious about or even searching for.
So how can we be naturally supernatural?
I think it’s not so much about what we try to project, but what we don’t try to hide. Without being obnoxious about it, we wear our faith for all to see.
When people ask what you did on the weekend, a naturally spiritual person will be able to comment that “I really enjoyed church on Sunday; got heaps out of it”.
When someone is sick or has a need, go one step beyond saying that you will pray for them, and offer to pray for them. Now.
You can let people who are in a struggle know that you have been praying for them, and ask them to let you know when they see an answer to your prayers.
If they are open, offer to catch up with them say weekly and read the bible with them. You can let God’s word do the talking. You don’t need to have all the answers.
It made me think.
Am I a human torch that projects light for all to see? Or do I put my dimmers on and hide the light that Christ wants to shine through me?
“No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lamp-stand so that those who come in can see the light.” (Luke 8:16)
That’s the thing. It’s not that I have to turbo charge my spirituality to get it out there and be super Christian. It’s more that I need to make sure that I’m not hiding it; by being naturally supernatural and allowing people to see what Jesus has done and is doing in me – naturally.
As a great leader, Jesus had already prepared the way for his disciples to follow.
He left heaven to come and preach the good news. Then in Luke 9, Jesus sent his “A”Team” out to do likewise. They were like his spiritual special forces, having walked with him and trained with him.
And now Luke 10 tells how it was time to send out the remaining troops, ordinary people like you and I who he would send as workers for the harvest.
There is so much to learn from what Jesus did here! Here are some keys that we can apply today.
1. Jesus specifically called people, let them know there task and sent them. It wasn’t a general exhortation to his crowd of followers. People were specifically appointed and told to go! Urging the crowd gathered on a Sunday to go will never be as effective as appointing specific people to go.
2. Jesus sent them out in pairs. Two are much better than one. Team ministry always trumps sole ministry.
3. Jesus showed the importance of prayer, and how to pray. He wasn’t praying for openness, conversions or even great conversations. He was praying for the men and women who would heed to call to go and be obedient. The greatest spiritual attack isn’t in the hearts and minds of those we witness to, it’s in the hearts and minds of those who Jesus sends. The problem isn’t with the harvest, it’s with having workers who will go into the harvest field. Nothing much has changed here!
4. Jesus instructed them to travel light. That way they had to depend on his Father to answer their needs. Fear causes us to wait until we have all we need. “I need to arrange accomodation” “I need to know and study a bit more” “I need to…”. Faith causes us to trust in Jesus and go.
5. Jesus emphasised their going to find people, not the people’s coming to those he commissioned. They were sent to look for people and connect with them, and opening a spiritual conversation using the blessing of peace. Those he sent were the ones who took the initiative. As a contrast, many of our programs are responsive; we don’t take the initiative to people but depend on a person coming and wanting to go further.
6. Jesus instructed that the initial receptivity of a person was critical. If they aren’t open and responsive, move on and look for someone else who is. Don’t waste time by trying to convert a person who isn’t open. The more upfront we are early on about the message we bring, the better. The longer we wait, the bless receptive people will be.
7. Jesus told his disciples to find Persons of Peace. They are people who a. are receptive to the disciple, b. are hungry to hear their message, and c. who will use their influence for others to hear the message. Persons of Peace will unlock towns, networks and communities to the gospel. They are the real harvesters who Jesus told us to pray for who will bring in the harvest. They must be immediately equipped and released to share the good news with those they influence.
8. Jesus told them not to worry about rejection or how people would respond, because when people said “no”, they weren’t really rejecting them, they were rejecting Jesus and his Father.
9. Jesus not only tasked them with a commission, but he gave them the spiritual authority they needed. The highest level of spiritual warfare takes place when we share Jesus and they decide whether to follow Him. When we are obedient in sharing, Satan loses. Whenever someone decides to follow Jesus, he loses again! We can defeat Satan through our obedience in making Jesus known and in seeing people come to faith. And Jesus has given us the authority to do this!
10. Jesus then debriefed his disciples. He was coaching them. in so doing, he was holding them accountable, reviewing their work, instructing them further and encouraging them. By appointing specific people, he was also able to be specific in knowing who to debrief.
10 simple principles. Developed by Jesus, tested by his “A Team”, then tested by a bunch of ordinaries. Tried and tested down through the ages. Being applied in amazing ways around the world at present, seeing a great harvest being brought in.
What about you? Here are three simple steps to implementing these principles:
“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Luke 10:2