God Running is a place for anyone who wants to (or even anyone who wants to want to) love Jesus more deeply, follow Jesus more closely, and love people the way Jesus wants us to.
In our last post from the book of Acts we looked at the 7 steps Peter took to lead 3,000 souls to Jesus. If you’re interested, you can read that post here: Peter’s 7 Steps to Lead 3,000 Souls to Jesus.
Today we’ll see what the earliest believers devoted themselves to.
The Early Jesus Followers
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.Acts 2:42-47
After Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, spoke to the crowd on the day of Pentecost, after 3,000 people were “cut to the heart” and surrendered themselves to Jesus, this is what happened. These new believers repeated the seven steps Peter took, the ones we discussed in the previous blog post from the book of Acts.
The 7 Steps Repeated
1. Peter was Intentional About His Time and Intimacy with Jesus. But the new believers were without the physical presence of Jesus, so, they devoted themselves to the most Christlike people they could find. Those people were the disciples of Jesus and each other. “They were together and had all things in common.”
2. Peter was Intentional About His Time and Intimacy with God’s Word. The new believers studied the teachings of the apostles, and those teachings would later become God’s scripture. It’s also true that the teachings of the apostles were those of their Master, Jesus. So in a sense, they were also devoting themselves to the Gospels that hadn’t been written yet.
“They devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching.”
3. Peter was Intentional About Obeying Jesus’ Commands. It follows that if these new believers were devoting themselves to the teachings of the apostles and Jesus, they were learning of Jesus’ commands, and their behavior described here at the end of Acts chapter 2 gives every indication they were obeying Jesus’ commands.
4. Peter was Intentional about Becoming Saint Peter. Peter’s obedience to Jesus and his command to love resulted in Peter becoming Saint Peter. We see the same process happening in the new believers.
“They were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.”
“Day by day” they were “attending the temple together.”
They were “breaking bread in their homes” together.
They had “glad and generous hearts.”
They were “praising God” together.
By loving God and loving each other in these ways, they were becoming saints.
5. Peter was Intentional about Moving Forward. As we saw earlier in Acts 2 and in previous blog posts, many of these new believers were, if not directly responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus, among those in the crowd who were shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
But they didn’t dwell on that. They didn’t get hung up on their past.
They believed in the forgiving power of Jesus Christ.
And they moved forward.
They moved forward by giving themselves to Jesus completely and utterly. And now we see what life can look like when people surrender themselves to Christ the way these early believers did.
6. Peter was Intentional about Prayer. And we see how these new Jesus followers devoted themselves to “the breaking of bread and prayers.”
7. Peter was Intentional about Pursuing the Holy Spirit. I have to believe that because Peter and the other apostles were sharing the teaching of Jesus, that they shared the parable of the widow who petitioned the unrighteous judge. And that they shared Jesus’ teaching about how if a man, being evil, knows how to give good gifts to his children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him. It only follows then that these new disciples of Jesus would also be intentional about pursuing the Holy Spirit in the same way Peter did. (Luke 18:1-8, Luke 11:11-13)
And Something More
We also see something else the new believers were doing. And it’s one of the most important things any of us can do. We see in Acts 2:42 that they were devoting themselves to the breaking of bread. This is likely a reference to following Jesus’ commandment to “do this often in remembrance of me,” the breaking of bread and the drinking of wine together, in worship.
“This is my body,” he said.
“And this is my blood.”
How Love Attracts
The last verse of Acts chapter 2, the last verse in our text, says, “And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
Why did they experience that kind of growth do you think?
There’s this quote I read recently from Tertullian. He once wrote of the Jesus followers of his day:
“The heathen were wont to exclaim with astonishment: ‘Behold how these Christians love one another, and how they are ready to die for one another.’”
This is why.
The early Jesus followers had such love for one another, the unbelievers around them were “astonished.”
You might say today, “Well I can’t find believers like that. I’ve tried. I’ve looked. The churches I’ve gone to just don’t have those kind of people as members.”
I say, “You be that kind of Jesus follower. You be the beginning of a group of people like that. You find the best church you can find, and you be the one to inject Jesus’ love into that community.”
You might start as a lone ranger, but if you keep at it. If you’re obedient to Jesus’ command to love, over time. You’ll see the people around you start to change.
I would also say, as I’ve said before, the best place to look for people who resemble Jesus is a place where people are doing work for Jesus.
But the main point is: you. You’re the main point. And I’m the main point. Love people the way these people in Acts chapter 2 loved each other and see what happens.
I’m a work in progress but I’ve been trying to do this for sometime now and my experience has been, the more I concern myself with my own pursuit of following Jesus’ command to love God and love people, and the less I concern myself with the behavior of others, the more abundant and rich my life becomes. Concerning myself with the behavior of others only steals my joy.
That experience fits perfectly with what Jesus says here:
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.Jesus Christ, John 10:10
Newly released book by Kurt Bennett, now available on Amazon!
Love Like Jesus: How Jesus Loved People (and how you can love like Jesus)
Love Like Jesus begins with the story of how after a life of regular church attendance and Bible study, Bennett was challenged by a pastor to study Jesus. That led to an obsessive seven year deep dive. After pouring over Jesus’ every interaction with another human being, he realized he was doing a much better job of studying Jesus’ words than he was following Jesus’ words and example. The honest and fearless revelations of Bennett’s own moral failures affirm he wrote this book for himself as much as for others.
Love Like Jesus examines a variety of stories, examples, and research, including:
- Specific examples of how Jesus communicated God’s love to others.
- How Jesus demonstrated all five of Gary Chapman’s love languages (and how you can too).
- The story of how Billy Graham extended Christ’s extraordinary love and grace toward a man who misrepresented Jesus to millions.
- How to respond to critics the way Jesus did.
- How to love unlovable people the way Jesus did.
- How to survive a life of loving like Jesus (or how not to become a Christian doormat).
- How Jesus didn’t love everyone the same (and why you shouldn’t either).
- How Jesus guarded his heart by taking care of himself–he even napped–and why you should do the same.
- How Jesus loved his betrayer Judas, even to the very end.
With genuine unfiltered honesty, Love Like Jesus, shows you how to live a life according to God’s definition of success: A life of loving God well, and loving the people around you well too.
A life of loving like Jesus.