If Luke Wrote About Your Church

In our small group leadership training plan, we ask the question, if Luke were alive today to write about the impact and effects of the Gospel in your community, what would he say?

Some Context

When Luke wrote the second chapter of the book of Acts, he began it with the spectacular inauguration of his new family. The Holy Spirit of God, full of divine delight, was freed to accomplish what he had ached to do for millennia past — to fall upon us and sweep us up into wedded bliss and power and union with Jesus. The church was consummated and what a celebration it was; complete with heavenly wind, fire, and good news proclamation in all languages. In fact, it was such a powerful and joyous occasion, some hardened onlookers thought Jesus’ bride was drunk!

Then, Luke writes in Acts 2:42-47 about the happiness of the bride and her honeymoon as it were in those first weeks of her union with Christ. Look at how filled-up she is with the mission and heartbeat of Jesus and look at some of the things Luke celebrates:

  • They eagerly devoted themselves to hearing and learning more about their groom with the apostles’ teaching.
  • They shared all that they could with each other and invested their earthly resources in each other.
  • They spent time together and invited others to join them.
  • They were in the marketplace telling the Good News message through selling items of value and property for the benefit of others. (quite possibly at inopportune times to sell their goods for the “highest value” for themselves just to be able to benefit others.)
  • They praised and adored God both publicly and privately. Worship became integral and contagious.
  • They ate meals together in Jesus’ name.
  • They were socially winsome and found favor among all the people.
  • They were welcoming in whatever they did in their homes (house-to-house). So, their homes became centers for community and moved away from being personal castles.
  • They saw answers to their prayers abounding as the Holy Spirit delighted to shower them with love through his special signs and wonders.
  • There was no line or barrier between “my church life” and “my regular life”.

Did you notice how different these things were from the first part of chapter 2? Married couples don’t have a wedding ceremony every day. Luke is highlighting how ordinary life with Jesus was filled-up with purpose and power that stretched into the spiritual and the eternal. The church is not dating Jesus in a paramour relationship. No, He is her everything.

Back to the Question

Now, how much do we recognize the integral and united nature we have with Christ while living in our communities? You see, our goal is not to replicate what the early church experienced in Luke’s list. If we do that, we turn our marriage relationship with Jesus into something mechanical and heavy by thinking that if we can just copy what they did, “church will work!”

Instead, Jesus will orchestrate all kinds of new gospel gestures, sacrifices, activities, and rewards to impact your community right where you are. So, imagine if Luke was walking around your church this month.

• How would he celebrate the gospel happening among you?

What might he write in his list to show how Jesus is orchestrating the impact of the gospel in YOUR everyday lives?

This is a great exercise to do right now personally and/or in a group of friends. If you sense that Luke wouldn’t have much to say, then you might be experiencing more of a cultural Christianity than a vibrant, communal, gospel-fueled Christianity. At that point, it would be wise to evaluate if you really understand the gospel and especially the Ascension of Jesus. And, it would be wise to deeply ask what has been radically transformed in your life and the lives of your church community. What can we celebrate as evidence of the gospel in action?

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The Fishin’ Mission

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One of the first actions that Jesus does when he enters his ministry is to go fishing. You can find him in the boat with Peter in Luke 5. Jesus was definitely a God-man on mission; the Master of the seas in carpenter’s guise. There on Galilee, Jesus draws Peter (James, John, & Andrew too) and catches them in his net of awe and compassion.

Peter crumbles and responds most adamantly, “Get away!” because he knew he was in the presence of overwhelming holiness which had invaded his helpless little business-in-a-boat. Jesus graciously replies, “Stop being afraid…” which in this context has the emphasis of his sins being pardoned and his person being accepted before God. This is what it means to be drawn and caught by Jesus. There’s a radical recognition of who Jesus the Christ really is, which in turn causes a total surrender, which in turn leads to the realization that you’ve already been caught – by Grace himself. But you are caught for a reason.

At the end of the great catch of both fish and men, we see Jesus beginning to walk away from the scene. Following him are his catch of men who are so fundamentally altered by his word that they “leave all their nets” and all they know. Actually, they leave almost all they know. Jesus tells them why they were caught, to do what they love (fishing) for different objectives (men). “From now on, you will be fishers of men.”

So, in a unique way, the “fish” have become the fishermen. Therefore, to realize that you’ve been caught by Jesus is to automatically be on mission with Him – simultaneously. Back down to the bottom of the sea with a type of Christianity that says, “Ya, I believe in Jesus, but I don’t have or need any community.” Drown the selfish idea that fish are only good for my consumption. Walk-the-plank with the practice of church attendance alone as the sum total of Christian living. And let the scales fall off that you’re dead in the water without an active fishin-mission in your life.

Do you have any more “Sea – analogies” that would call-out the false separation of Christian identity from Christian mission? (See how I’m baiting you to leave a comment?)