Pastor Travis Burkett
Growing up, I wanted friendship, but I wanted it on my own terms. To me, friendship was people valuing me for what I brought to the table. Most of my friendships were surface-level. We didn’t go deep because I painted a picture that my life was perfect while holding my baggage behind my back. For a moment, think about your community/friendships; how often do you have heart-to-heart talks? How often do you share your fears or struggles? How often do you ask to be held accountable?
The reality is, most people don’t like being vulnerable. We don’t like anyone knowing our business. However, in Acts 2 something happened that truly shook that mindset.
We call it the day of Pentecost. The Jewish holiday Shavuot (the feast of weeks) commemorates the giving of the Torah (the first five books in the Bible) to Moses at Mount Sinai. In Acts, this feast would have brought people from all over the world to Jerusalem. There would have been different cultures, languages, and food diets all together to celebrate God’s provision on Israel. During this week, Christian followers were praying and the Holy Spirit showed up as they miraculously spoke the Gospel to all so that they could clearly hear. The Bible says that over 3,000 believed on the name of Jesus!
After they were saved, the Bible says in Acts 2:42, “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Did you see what took place? The Spirit moved, and people came together. No matter the differences which previously divided them, the Spirit united them. This is awesome! However, we live like it’s a one-time extreme. We think this is too difficult for us to repeat. Like for real, we can’t even live unified with a church that we see every week. God changed thousands, and we still live our faith like we are asleep. We wonder why can’t seem to succeed, but every time God’s presence shows up in our churches, the assembly looks deceased.
The book of Acts shows us that we are called to live dedicated to Jesus, Christian fellowship, and God’s Word. What I love about this passage is that when they accepted Jesus, they were in unity. Yet, they still were different. Different lives, cultures, and people but what united them was stronger than what previously divided them (JESUS).
The challenge is simple:
1. Value people more.
In Acts 2, when the Holy Spirit showed up, it caused people to unite. Jesus was the most important part of their lives. When Jesus is the main thing, you can’t help but value people the way that Jesus values people. 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slack (slow) concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us, not willing (wishing) that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost and calls us to the same mindset. It doesn’t mean that we must agree or allow people to walk over us. Yet, it does remind us that what unites us is stronger than a music preference or a political stance.
The next challenge is this:
2. Find a real community.
Acts 2 shows us what this community looked like: They were devoted (to God and each other). They were in fellowship (an idea of community/worship together/sharing struggles and victories.). They broke bread (shared communion). They were in prayer. They were being used by God (active service). They kept unity (the focus was on Jesus).
This picture shows me that they loved Jesus in a way where nothing was going to take their focus off of that truth. They found a community that pushed them towards that focus. Our culture teaches us to focus on ourselves. We hear sayings like: do it for yourself, work on yourself, have it your way, etc. Sometimes what we need to hear isn’t what we want to hear. There are times that what I need to do isn’t what I want to do. I need a community that is going to push me closer to Jesus, not live confined in my comforts. The reality is this, some of us don’t want Biblical community because we don’t have any intentions of changing from the current state of mind.
James 5:16 says, "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." We need people in our corner who are going to love us, fellowship with us, but keep us close and clean to Jesus. The question is this, do you have people in your life that help you be real? As a pastor, for years I struggled with being vulnerable. I thought it will hurt my image. I’m supposed to be the example. Yet, what I really needed was Biblical community. I needed to open up, be encouraged, and let people help me be who God calls me to be. I couldn’t do it on my own because I know the Bible says, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” We all need people in our lives that would hold us back from temptation but also hold us up for spiritual and social encouragement.
So, who is in your corner? Who is holding you back and holding you up? May we take a step to being more open and living in Acts 2 community.