The community represented in Acts 2 reminds me of an illustration I recently read in a book. The author spoke about the giant Redwoods just outside of San Francisco in the Armstrong Redwood National State Reserve. These Redwoods extend skyward over a football field in length. They have stood for centuries despite heavy storms coming through the region. The way they have been able to face storm after storm after storm without toppling over has to do with their root system. When you read about their roots, you learn that they are only about 12 feet under the surface. While 12 foot is not shallow, it doesn’t seem deep enough to hold a tree 100 or more yards in height in the ground against fierce winds. On it’s own it probably wouldn’t. But the giant Redwoods aren’t standing on their own. If you were to scrap back the earth, you would see an intertwined network of roots. The Redwoods are able to stand because they live in community with one another. In other words, they depend on one another for strength. What they couldn’t do on their own, they are able to do in community. So that’s how they have been able to stand for 100’s of years despite the storms Mother Nature throws at them.
Likewise, the only way we are going to be able to endure the storms of life and thrive as God has intended us to is by living in authentic and interdependent community with one another. In other words, our spiritual roots must not just extend deep but also wide. We must be connected with and depend on our fellow believers around us. If not, we aren’t going to stand when the storms of life come at us. Instead we will fall. We need one another. We need to live in authentic and interdependent community with one another.
What does that look like live in authentic and interdependent community?
I. What does it look like for us to live in authentic community? (vs. 42)
Authentic is a word that gets thrown around a lot these days. You have authentic clothes, shoes, bags, drinks, coffee, stores, etc. It seems that everything and everyone wants to be authentic. But have you ever thought about what it actually means to be authentic? When you look that word up in the dictionary, you’ll find that one of the definitions is genuine, which is how I’m using authentic here. As Jesus’ disciples, we are to be genuine.
A. What does it look like for us to be genuine?
In Acts 2:42, we read,
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42)
This verse tells us what it means for us to be authentic. Looking at it in more depth, the first thing we encounter is the idea of devotion. Devoting ourselves to something means we approach that activity with an intense effort over a sustained period of time. We are told in verse 42 that the early church in Jerusalem were devoted to several things.
B. To what were they devoted?
They were devoted:
- To the Apostles teaching
- Fellowshipping with one another
- The Lord’s Supper
- Dining together
- As well as praying together.
These were things, the activities they were devoted to. Their devotion to these things allowed them to carry out the mission Jesus gave them — to make disciples. That tells us, then, that making disciples requires more than telling others the good news about Jesus, or urging the pastor to do that. I mean, certainly we need to tell others about Jesus, and we need to encourage our pastor to do the same. Paul does tells us in Romans that others aren’t going to believe unless they hear, and they aren’t going to hear unless someone tells them. So we we must be about the business of speaking the gospel.
But speaking the gospel is only step one in the disciple making process. There are other things that we need to do in order to make disciples. We see what those are in this verse. But here is the thing, we can’t do those things unless we are in community with one another. Not just community that leads to business connections, social activities, or cultural approval. No, I’m talking about real authentic community where we are genuinely sharing our lives with one another and we are devoted to one thing — accomplishing Jesus’ mission.
So those who are authentic disciples are not just in it for themselves. They genuinely care about the lives of those around them. They genuinely want to see others built up in the faith. They genuinely want to use their God-given gifts to minister to one another. There is not an ulterior motive.
So when you think about your church involvement: Is it authentic? Is it genuine? Are you here because you are devoted to your growth, the growth of others, and furthering Jesus’ kingdom? Or are you here for another reason? If we are going to grow as a church and impact Jesus’ kingdom, then we have to be here for the right reason. We have to be authentic disciples, who are devoted to one another.
Question for Reflection
- Are you are a disciple that’s devoted to others in your church?
Post developed from my sermon In what type of community must the church live?