In the opening chapters of the Book of Acts, we’re confronted by Luke’s descriptions of the first followers of Jesus. It isn’t notable for its influence in society. Its strength isn’t its property. And even though its mission isn’t to get ‘more bums on seats’, it keeps growing and spreading.
The Church is misunderstood at best, and more often despised and persecuted (much like today). But it is strong. It is strong, because the Holy Spirit gives it strength and power (supernatural power) to testify about Jesus.
So this is a great place to start if we aren’t really sure what place the Church has in the world we live in (or if we’re wondering if the Church should have a place in our lives).
As we pick up at Acts 11:19-30, God tell us (through Luke) more of the story of how His Church spread and grew.
That’s what the Church has always been about:
- It’s not a group of like-minded people who enjoy doing good things together. The Church is not a social club.
- It’s not about providing social support to everyone who had needs. It’s not a social service.
- It’s not about changing society for the better. It’s not a social movement.
The Church will do some things that those sorts of groups do, but none of them are the reason the Church exists.
So, if you expect this Church to provide you with a group of high-calibre, good moral people to spend your time with, you’ll be disappointed to learn that we’re all sinners. And if you haven’t been sinned against in a Church, it won’t take long for that to happen here. That doesn’t make it okay, but we need to be honest about it, repent, and forgive, then keep working together on the Church’s mission (rather than pack up and go home).
If you expect this Church to solve your money problems or your family problems or your marriage problems, then you’ll be disappointed too. Don’t get me wrong: We want to know what your problems are. We will pray for you, and we will pray with you, and we will help you, but we can’t fix every problem. So, we’ll keep pointing you to Jesus, who can fix anything and who can help you live through every sort of trouble.
And if you expect this Church to solve the world’s problems, you’ll be disappointed too. Yes, we care about unemployment, homelessness, broken families, self-harm, abortion, and refugees. And we should be ashamed for not speaking about that and for not doing more about that. But even if were possible to create a world without war and poverty and pain, our biggest problem would remain: Sin. And that’s why we’re here, because Jesus is the only one who can take our guilt at what we’re done and our shame at who we really are inside. That’s our message.
In Acts 1:8, He tells us, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” That’s our mission: to be faithful to Jesus’ plan.
This Church will disappoint you. We might not be doing what you think we should. Our style might not be your cup of tea. We might not be able to run the programs you think are important, or to preserve the assets that matter to you.
But this Church will let you down for a reason: We aren’t here to be popular, or successful, but to be faithful:
- Faithful to Engage & Evangelise (v19-21)
- Faithful to Embrace (v22-24)
- Faithful to Edify (v25-26)
- Faithful to Impart (v27-30)
That’s the challenge for us: Congregation, elders, are we willing to let everything else go to be faithful in these ways?
Sunday 3rd February 2019
- The Church exists to: ___________________ (Acts 1:8)
- Our message is: __________________
- God used trouble to ______________________________________(v19)
- Who needs Jesus?
- Everyone has a ‘Gospel’ about why we are __________, what’s __________ with the world, how it can be _______, and what our ____________________ is.
- Why is Barnabas glad (v23)?
- ‘Edify’ means ___________________
- How are Christians built up (v26)?
- What can we share (v29)?
- Can we be faithful?
- A question I have:
- A truth to share:
- Something to pray about:
- How I should live: