This week for Bible study, we are covering Acts 2 and 4. These portions of the Bible cover the early church and how it got started after the Resurrection. What we see are beautiful illustrations of the lives that believers of Christ should look like.
And they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done to the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing to all , as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. – Acts 2:42-47
One thing that our church warned us of is to take how these early Christians lived and try to make it our new to-do list of how we should become. Instead, we are to look at Jesus, determine his desires and pray that our desires would be changed by him so that we could experience how we are intended to live.
I took a minute to look at John 17 – also known as the high priestly prayer of Jesus. In this prayer, Jesus actually prays specifically for us believers, and we can see his desires for us. We can also understand how more than anything, Jesus wants us to be united with him and others. The following is a list of the desires Jesus has for us believers. As you can see, these closely relate to the picture we see in Acts 2 and 4.
- Unity with God and Others: We see throughout the prayer of Jesus in John 17, the desire of Jesus is that we would be united with God. We also see the beautiful unity displayed in the trinity, as Jesus prays to God, and then asks, “Holy Father, keep them (us believers) name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.” He also notes, “I in them, and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me”. When we look at the picture of believers in Acts 2 and 4, we see the believers are united with God, and as a result had “everything in common”. They shared assets. They pooled resources. They shared food. We also can deduce that if God’s desire is unity with Him, our lives will naturally look like the believers in Acts 2 and 4.
- Reliance on the word: In John 17:14, Jesus mentions in his prayer that he has given us God’s word, since we are still in the world. We also see in numerous times in Jesus’ life that he relies on the word of God to guide him or help him resist temptation. As believers, we should understand that reading the Bible isn’t a chore or something to cross off our to-do list, but a way that we can see God’s desires for our lives, and his love and power.
- Praise: Jesus sets the example of glorifying God. From the beginning of his prayer, he glorifies God. Later, he says, “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.” So Jesus desires us to one day be able to see his full glory, and praise will be the only response.
- Believers to be sent into the world: Jesus prays John 17:18, “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world”. He also shows us earlier in verse 15 that us being in the world is intentional, “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one”. This means as followers of Christ, it is God’s intention that we seek relationships with unbelievers. While Jesus clearly needed close Christian community, his whole life was devoted to being sent into the world to spread the gospel to unbelievers.
- Know the Love of God: It is also Jesus’ desire for us to know the love of God. Jesus says, “I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them”. How amazing is it that God wants us to know how much he loves us.