When the Church is united, Christ is delighted

Key Principle #6: Communion-ity (part 3)

“And through the hands of the apostles many signs
and wonders were done among the people. 
And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch…
(and the unchurched) people esteemed them highly.”
Acts 5:12

A Powerful Witness And Great Grace

        I mentioned in a previous blog posting something about getting in a support group like Celebrate Recovery. What I like about C.R. is that you can go there and absolutely be yourself and for some of us, that is not always a good thing! But it sure beats superficiality.
        That wonderful sense of communion-ity provided such a powerful witness for the Resurrection to the church leadership and the apostles. When the church is united, Christ is delighted. When the church is divided, Christ is so slighted.
        Acts 4:33 talks about great power and great grace. The Great Power was given in providing a witness to Christ. Being of "one heart and one soul" (Acts 4:32) can provide a marvelous platform. Was it that the body of believers had nothing about which to divide themselves? Hardly! Remember the disciples were constantly divided when they walked with Jesus, refusing to wash one another's feet and jockeying for a seat at Jesus' right hand and at His left hand. Someone pointed out to me just today that if a disciple was in fact to be seated at Jesus' left hand, he would be sitting in the very lap of Jehovah! Talk about "be careful what you ask for." 
       So what made the change in the apostles and the early believers to where people like Barnabas, a nickname meaning the "Son of Encouragement," would want to be with this newly formed faith? To paraphrase a line from Spiderman, "with great power comes great grace." It was the grace and favor of God which brought about that communionity. 
       Sometimes it’s hard to know what type of “grace” the Bible is speaking about. In this case, it seems that the people had more patience, forgiveness, and understanding with others, especially those who were in financial need. If someone needed something, there was plenty of gracious people who were willing to help out. Where did the church get that type of grace? From God, yes, but from God within, the Holy Spirit. One Bible dictionary defines grace as "of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues."
       Once you truly receive that type of grace, it's easy to give it but you cannot give it away. Why can't you give it away? Because the Lord will replenish more grace when you give it. What happens if you "hold back" on grace? I think it is interesting that the death of Ananias and Sapphira occurs right in between two passages on grace. Nowhere does it say that God killed them. No! It was sin that killed them, perhaps a stressed and guilt-ridden heart led to a sick body and heart attack. 
       Be a dispenser of grace and you will likely find you will live longer and certainly you will live more freely. Last time I looked, no one appointed you or me to be the dispenser of guilt. But God has appointed us to be dispensers of grace. Great grace.
        John Maxwell preached a sermon years ago called “Five Things I Know About People” which was broadcasted on Focus on the Family. In every church I’ve been at since then, I’ve tried to get my leaders to listen to these five principles, because the early church knew them so well. The five principles are:

1.              Everybody Wants Be Somebody

2.            Nobody Cares How Much You Know, Until They Know How Much You Care

3.            Everybody Who Belongs to the Body of Christ Belongs to Everybody Who Belongs to the Body of Christ

4.           Anybody Who Helps Somebody Influences A Lot of Bodies

5.            God Loves Everybody.

        It was especially principle number four that helped the early church grow. No one was too low to help another and the ministry to “the least of these” never escaped anyone’s attention, especially the Lord’s (see Matthew 25). The apostles were literally hands-on in the ministry. "And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And ... the people esteemed them highly" (Acts 5:12a, 13b). Neither did it escape the attention of others.
        Five times in the first five chapters of Acts, Dr. Luke records that the believers were of "one accord." Ask God to give you a sincere love for every Christian and that as a result, you will “have all things in common” with one another, meaning that everyone will be on the same level in everything.


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