Wednesday, July 08, 2009
We've just hit the halfway point on our Acts study. I think it's been good for everyone. Because this study is building as we go, I want to reflect here on the major themes of this book.
Mission of God --> Desperate Dependence --> Doing whatever it takesIt all begins with the mission of God. What is the mission of God? It's Acts 1:8. It all starts with the fact that God has had a plan from the beginning, and that plan has been to redeem and restore that which is lost. The early church did not understand that this plan included all people, so it was a bit of a shock to them when the Gentiles received the gospel. And here's the thing: as far as I can tell, the "ends of the earth" have not been reached. Therefore, our Missional God is continuing on with His plan, and He calls us to join Him.
Though we have a role to play, the primary player in accomplishing the mission of God is the Holy Spirit. This is true now just as it was during the 33 years that make up the account of the early church found in the book of Acts. The Spirit of God orchestrates everything we see there. He births the church, heals people, convicts people, saves people, calls out people, and even tells His servants what to say and what to do.
Once this begins to capture our hearts, as it did the early church, we become desperate to see God do what only God can do. It leads to a radical dependence. Two things come from desperate dependence: Prayer and Repentance. The early church was committed to prayer, not simply because it was what Christians are supposed to do, but because they were desperately trying to keep up with the Spirit of God. All they knew to do at times was to pray, but they learned that prayer is powerful.
Repentance came alongside prayer. We often think of repentance as a one-time event, but the Bible paints a completely different picture. Repentance is a daily event. Last week Nathan Cook taught us from Acts 10, which is a great picture of repentance. What Peter saw in his vision went against everything he knew. It was a major paradigm shift, but even so, he said "Yes" to God. We need to constantly be in a state of repentance. We need to repent of our sins of commission and ommission, but we also need to repent of following our own agendas.
Finally, "doing whatever it takes" is the result, whether this means opening up your home to others (Acts 2), or, to the other end of the spectrum, suffering persecution for the sake of Christ. One point I should make here: It's very easy to start here and believe that we'll never be at that point, but this is a mistake. It didn't start here for the early followers of Christ, and it doesn't start here for us. This is once again why I love the Total Church phrase, "Ordinary people living ordinary lives with gospel intentionality.
I believe that God is at work in our city, and that He wants to use us to accomplish His plans. My hope is that as we continue to live this out in a beautiful (though often messy) and radical way, our friends and neighbors will begin to ask questions (1 Peter 3:15).
If you want to keep up with our study but aren't in Midtown, check out our website for podcasts, articles and a study guide.