And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met. They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved. (Acts 2:43-47).
This is really fascinating verse. This is also verse I've heard taken out of context numerous times by numerous people. My fear is that we as Americans have come to this verse with a consumer mindset, rather than one of really trying to understand and live out what this verse is saying has happened.
We all desire to see that "every day their number grew as God added those who were saved". however, if we're being honest, very few of us want to live in a way that this verse describes before that line. Myself included.
There are a few points that I think must be noted:
First, it was God who added to the numbers. Not man. (Sorry attractional churches). It was not necessarily the things that the believers were doing that added to the numbers. However it does appear that their actions created an environment where God chose to add daily, but in no way does this verse give glory to any man for the growing of the church.
Secondly, there were many things going on around this time. It's almost as if there was a perfect storm brewing for God to grow His church. Read the earlier part of this chapter for more context.
Third, people in general liked what they saw. The way that Christians were living was appealing to those people that didn't know Jesus. It was the kindling that God would use to add.
My concern is that we want to see "God added those who are saved", without being willing to sacrifice in a way that our early family members did. Are we willing to sell whatever we own and pull our resources so that each person's need is met? And not just once, but as a lifestyle? We like the way that sounds in theory. Practically though, forget it. Are we willing to go after the American idol of "family" and "family time", and spend every day together with one another in celebration? Are we truly willing to live in wonderful harmony? Pursuing reconciliation rather than running? Are we really willing to live together. In community. As family.
I've heard many pastors speak on this verse with very shallow challenges to living this out at face value. The challenge is often given as icing on the cake. As if we should try to desire this, IF we can fit it into our normal everyday schedule.
Gospel living should interrupt our schedules. It should take precedent over the isolating "American Dream" lifestyle that we so easily fall into. The gospel must dictate our schedule, our finances, our parenting, our intentionality, where we live, etc. It should never be in addition to the lifestyle that we have currently set into motion. Apart from Jesus, hierarchy is not found in the kingdom of God.
The community of Jesus followers on this earth should look vibrant and colorful and alive. However, often what is often seen is rules, regulations, and lukewarm obedience to following a set lifestyle that is a breeding ground for legalism.
I want my neighbors to know Jesus. But I am concerned that I'm not willing to do what it takes to make that a reality. And that frightens me. Because it makes me realize that I love myself and my preferences more than I love the thought of my neighbors coming to know Jesus. So, do I really love my neighbor as myself?