Weekly Bible Devotional
“Change the World: Become a Disciple”
October 20, 2019
Adventure Quest: What is one thing you can give up to live more simply?
Scripture for Sunday: Acts 2:42-47
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.43 Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. 44 All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45 they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
Notes on The Text:
The book of Acts is the second volume written by the same author of the Gospel of Luke between the years 75 and 100 CE. The goal was not just to tell of the story of the ministry of Jesus but also to tell the story of the communities of Jesus after his death and resurrection. Acts is the story of the birth of the Church and its spread from Jerusalem to Rome and from its Jewish roots to its Gentile (non-Jewish) branches/communities. Acts contains sermons/speeches and events.
The author of Acts was giving the readers a compelling summary description of the life of the early church to help them see the value of the local church and what it is supposed to do. There are several summaries in Acts about the life of the early community. These summaries provide a general picture of the activities the new believers engaged in when they congregated under the leadership of the apostles. Today’s passage is to be understood as a snapshot of the discipleship life of the community. It cannot be used to say that the early Christians all moved in together and spent all their money and time together. We can’t take this summary and make it the literal ideal for churches and disciples. What we can get from this scripture is a description of what a Christian community looks like when they are living in the Spirit of God. The early followers of Christ were so focused on the love of God that their lives were so transformed for the whole world to see their amazing change. Motivated by the Holy Spirit, they generously shared what property they possessed. This was not an early form of communism because there is historical evidence that points to the continued ownership of homes and businesses by individual members. The sale and distribution of surplus assets is most likely what is described in Acts 2:42-47. This story is about how a community that is focused on the grace and love of God lives together. This was not a monastic vow of poverty. It was more of a byproduct of the early Christians’ relationship with the Spirit and how they saw following the path of Jesus was to be lived. When the people experienced God’s love, they were transformed to share it with others. Their hearts were opened to the needs of others among them. The Spirit of God creates not just new practices in our lives. The Spirit of God creates a whole new people out of us. The power of the Holy Spirit in the early Christian communities as described in Acts 2 led people to break down the social barriers between economic classes, ethnic groups, and men and women. They lived in a time when these barriers were so strong and people of different social classes never shared a meal together, but the table to Christ brought them together.
This description from Acts provides us with a great example of the early church and how they went about living as disciples.
As we reflect on the experience of the early followers of Jesus as a community of the way of Christ, we are invited to reflect on our call to discipleship and what difference discipleship makes in our life and in the lives of those around us. The key idea for this week on the adventure of changing the world is to become a disciple because disciples change the world. Disciples are diverse and unique as each of us has a unique story and life. Yet, there are some common threads of what discipleship looks like. Slaughter writes, “Disciples model the message. They replicate the life and mission of Jesus in the world.” Discipleship is a living and committed relationship with the teacher who guides us and helps us fulfill his mission.
What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? The Greek word mathetes is the word that Scripture uses for “disciple,” and it means “learner-follower.” A disciple learns to follow and learns by following; Jesus’ disciples learn to follow Jesus and learn by following Jesus. And what do they learn? Disciples, or apprentices of Jesus, learn to live a life informed and empowered by the life of Christ so that they may be equipped to continue his ministry.
In the last couple of years, we at Batavia First Presbyterian Church have been trying to make it clear what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. Here is what we have defined as our path of discipleship:
- Grow: Our daily intentional time with God as the focus in prayer or reading the Bible.
- Worship: Coming together with others to pray and to open ourselves to experiencing God’s loving presence. Weekly communal worship that engages hearts, minds, bodies, and senses.
- Connect: Gathering with others for faith sharing, prayer, support, friendship, and study.
- Serve: Putting our faith into action in daily life to join the mission of Christ in the world. Sharing the good news of Christ’s love with others. Giving of our time and finances.
The great and challenging news is that all of us are called to be disciples, those of us with the ability to share a lot and those of us with the ability to share a little. Some of us might serve by praying for a ministry or a service project, while others might give time or money to it. Each of us has the ability to worship, grow, connect and serve so that we continue to live as disciples of the way of Jesus and to change the world.
Entering into a Relationship by Joyce Rupp:
When did you first
weave your way into my life,
When did you first
with your contagious
colors of love?
When did the mystery
of your kindness stir
I could no longer deny your grace?
I do not know the precise moment.
Perhaps there never was one.
More, it seems to me,
are the countless times,
endless ways, you enter,
thread by thread,
the pattern of my days,
your presence inaudibly
interlacing my every moment,
your whispers and sighs,
your breathy voice
in the ear of my heart,
persuading me into your embrace.
never stop encouraging me.
Draw me daily
into the sanctuary
of your enduring love.