Faith on Fire – Week 5
Welcome to week 5 of our Faith on Fire series, being inspired by the first Christians in the book of Acts. Perhaps we feel like we are living in a completely new kind of world at the moment – there is so much we can learn from this groundbreaking men and women who started the church. Our verse this week was:
“With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the LORD Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.” Acts 4:33-35
ACTS STYLE GENEROSITY
The passage this week struck me on 2 levels, witnessing and generosity.
Sometimes I find it hard to witness, all sorts of reasons hinder me. Fear of people and what they may think. Anxiety that I won’t have the right words. Stress that I may be asked awkward questions but we should all take comfort from these verses. Whenever we give a testimony, witness, chat about what Jesus has done in our lives we should feel a sense of grace, unmerited favour that God has given us. We’ve stepped out and God wants to bless us for that.
He, the holy spirit, is also inside us when we talk to others about Jesus and therefore with him we are able to proclaim God’s wondrous works with power and strength. Not in our own ability but with Jesus’ help we can deliver our testimony.
The verses that follow talk about generosity. This again some people find easy and others hard. Maybe the testimony by the apostles stirred something inside those listening. Maybe if we give more testimonies the spirit of generosity will be stirred in others and in ourselves? I need to remember that Jesus is with me and I can speak of his great love for us, ask for his wisdom and words and not rely on myself.
When I read this verse, I have a sense of humbleness and a strong community; all needs met: property and land sold when needed.
I think it can be easy to focus on the giving and not the receiving aspect. I find it hard to imagine selling our house to pay for other Christians, but that is only half of what is happening. The early Christians felt certain that they would have somewhere to live, that God would provide using all the normally earthly means available. When they sold a house, they would not become homeless, they could live with other Christians. Many of them would still be working and earning money to support the apostles and help feed those in need in their community.
Anyone who has shared a house or flat, whether in halls of residence or a rented holiday cottage for a week, knows you have to compromise to make things work. If the Apostles received food, they might not have always got their favourite meals. During this crisis, two expressions have stuck with me. The first was from a leader of a country telling her people that they had to stay home as much as possible. If they ran out of bread, then eat crackers. The other was from a marketing executive speaking about how the way to get people spending again was to remind people of ‘that third flavour of yogurt they quite like’. His idea was that there are lots of things that aren’t truly essential but that we all like as treats and variety.
As we read further into Acts and the Letters, conflict emerges and we see that these were people just like us. We need to embrace our brilliance as flawed humans, as the early Christian also had to do. Some days we will be grateful for the packet of crackers a friend has provided (or the biscuits at a playgroup), and other days we may spend money on buying ourselves that little something that isn’t exactly essential. If we give of our resources and receive with generous, hopeful hearts, then we can trust in God to work through us.
I think this verse is such a great reminder of what it is to really live in church community and yet we so often find it difficult to accept help.
I was reminded when reading this verse of when I broke my foot a few years ago. I had a 6 month old baby along with 2 older children and my husband works long hours. I was pretty worried about how I’d manage but my church family rallied around. Cooking meals, taking me to appointments and coming to see me.
I also love how this verse tells us that it was because Gods Grace was working so powerfully in them that no one was in need. A reminder to us that it’s God working in and through us that makes the difference.
Our verse for meditation on will be:
“Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead-whom you killed by hanging him on a cross.” Acts 5:29-30
Join Rachel back at 8pm on Monday night for a Facebook Live discussion to kick off the week! See you then.