Hanging Out with a Helpful Crowd
Bible Reading: Acts 2:41-47
They joined with the other believers and devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, sharing in the Lord’s Supper and in prayer—Acts 2:42.
Want an easy electrifying way to a new you—one that singes your unhealthy self-image and makes you feel loved, valued, and useful? Well, you just bolt two powerful electrodes to your scalp, turn on the 30,OOO-volt transformer, and—Just kidding.
You can spot the real program God designed to help you transform your sense of identity in the goings-on of the early church. The whole New Testament conveys three experiences you need in your life:
- You need a vital teaching experience. Devotion to the teaching of God’s Word was the first task of the first-century church. You study the Bible first not to learn what to do as a Christian but to get God’s view of who you are and what you are becoming. Then the “doing” part of your faith practically takes care of itself. If you aren’t part of an ongoing Bible study where you are taught God’s Word by mature, wise Christians, you will continue to struggle to know who you really are.
- You need a vital relational experience. The Jerusalem believers were as devoted to the fellowship-being together, praying together, eating together-as they were to studying the Word. Getting together was how they experienced the Word day by day. It’s how they learned to treat each other as lovable, valuable, competent members of God’s family. Spending time with other believers—living out what you learn—is where you learn the same stuff.
- You need a vital witnessing relationship. The news that God loves and values the humans he has made is a message he wants spread to people who aren’t Christians. The New Testament pictures witnessing as living the truth of who you are in Christ and talking about it whenever possible. That’s how the early church grew every day. Modeling your identity as a valued child of God is how you share God’s good news of salvation with others.
First Thessalonians 2:1-12 pictures how the apostle Paul intensely put this process into action among believers. He treated the Thessalonian believers with the tenderness of a nursing mother (see verse 7) and taught and encouraged them as a father (see verse 11). Got it? Paul taught the new converts the truth about how God sees them. He related to them in love and understanding. And then he witnessed to them modeled for them-what it meant to see himself like God does.
REFLECT: Are you in an environment --your church, youth group, or Bible study-- that provides you with these necessities for growth?
PRAY: Ask God to help you take full advantage of opportunities to grow in your biblical understanding of who you are.