“Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life” (Acts 5:20).
In church on Sunday, our pastor read the passage he would preach on, Acts 4:32-5:42. Then, as on so many Sundays, during the sermon I wrote furiously, trying to capture all that Truth that was being spoken, on paper, because it slips too quickly out of my head. Do you take notes in church too? I find it helps the words sink in and marinate. And then those words are on paper, just as they were spoken, to savor later.
But something stuck, without having to be written down.
“…speak to the people all the words of this Life.”
Maybe the command to “speak” stuck with me because I attended the Declare conference recently (I know, you might be tired of hearing that by now). Or maybe this command resonated just because I love words; and I love, love love His Very Word.
It is an angel who delivers this command to Peter and John. They are imprisoned (again) because of teaching and preaching in the Name of Jesus. And the Sanhedrin, the ruling body of the Temple, keeps warning them not to promote the Name of Jesus in any way. But disapproval and threats don’t stop them, because Peter and John are so filled with love for this Life – where there is communion with God and man and no fear of death – that they cannot keep silent. They have the Bread of Life and the Living Water. How can they keep it to themselves?
There is persecution and suffering…they have seen Jesus beaten and crucified, have seen Stephen stoned, have been warned by the leadership not to speak, so God sees fit to confirm this thing they have been doing. He encourages them to continue to “speak all the words of this Life.”
This Life. What Life? Church Life. In Acts, we see this beautiful Life: Hearts are knit together by the Holy Spirit, everything is shared, bread is broken together, needs are met, and the Church IS the Body of Christ, with Him at the Head. What’s not to love? So first there is the experience of the Body and then there comes the witness about it.
The question for us is: Are we running this race? Are we living this Life? Are we in community with other believers where we can see the Holy Spirit at work? Are we giving of ourselves, sharing with others in need? Are we being built up as a Spiritual House of Living Stones, founded on the Chief Cornerstone (1 Peter 2:5)?
I love my church because it is a place where I feel a real connection to the Body of Christ. My hubby and I have been to so many churches where we passed in and out of the doors without connecting to anyone while there. Painful. Our fault? Their fault? Both? Yes, yes, and yes.
But God would have us know community…in our churches, in our homes, in our friendships. Experiencing community helps us to know this Life, so we can speak about it, Declare it, to others:
“Always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks you about the hope you have. Be ready to give the reason for it. But do it gently and with respect” (1 Peter 3:15, NrIV).
Is your hope on full display? And if you don’t experience this Life at your church, can YOU change things? Choose this Life that we see in the Early Church. Experience fellowship with the Spirit and the fellowship of believers. Here’s how:
- Study God’s Word and put it into practice in your own life
- Be generous
- Break bread together (at church and outside of church)
- Invite people into your home, your life
- And Speak this Life:
No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand:
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.
‘“ “In Christ Alone” by Stuart Townend & Keith Getty
photo credit/Copyright: subbotina / 123RF Stock Photo