This week I’ve been posting some reflections from last weekend’s message concerning the organic nature of the early church. This counter-culture movement can be evaluated by its external behaviors or by its internal character. I submit that we’ll get farther down the road if we focus on the internal character more than simply mimicking their acts. So far this week I’ve suggested that the early community possessed an uncommon unity and an uncommon value system. You can read the previous two posts to catch up if you need to. Today I want to talk about their uncommon story and their uncommon grace.
As the summary continues, Acts 4:33 states, “The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all.”
I’ve been required to do a few sworn depositions in my life, but I’ve only been called as a witness once in a trial. Either way, I was sworn under oath and asked to state the facts. Interestingly enough, the attorney’s concerned with each case really didn’t care about my opinion. The apostles testified (think taking the stand) to what they knew was true concerning Jesus’ death and resurrection. It was an uncommon story in that it was not fabricated or embellished. It was the truth. The amazing thing about this uncommon story is that the person behind the story had and still had the power to transform lives. If you want to know why the apostles lived the way they did, their story is rooted in the larger story of Jesus. Their preaching was an invitation for others to root their lives in the story of Jesus.
Because of their uncommon character, the verse goes on to report that God’s grace was upon them. They were blessed by God. Those who know me are probably tired of me soap boxing on this, but it seems to be everywhere in Scripture: God’s blessings are not for us to enjoy; they are for us to share. The nation Israel in the Old Testament rose and fell according to their attitude toward their blessings. When we make God’s blessing about us, we begin to think we’re God’s favorite people, not his favored people. God’s favor is not about us. God’s blesses us so that we can be a blessing to others. What Israel missed the early church discovered. Two thousand years later, the principle remains the same.