Saturday, September 25, 2010

Acts 1

At Central we've started working our way through the New Testament book of Acts. Last week we started with Acts 1:1-5, and this week we'll continue with Acts 1:6-26. I believe that this chapter -- Acts 1 -- is one of the most critical in the Bible. Why?

Many church leaders want to jump to Acts 2 right away -- we want to see the Holy Spirit come in power on the church, we want to preach the big sermon that interprets to the world what these amazing (and slightly bizarre) events in the church really mean. We want to see church members living in tight fellowship and growing. Let's be honest, we want the 3,000 converts in one day. But none of these things happens in a vacuum.

Before the Holy Spirit comes, Jesus tells the disciples to wait. This waiting is not a passive thing. It is ACTIVE waiting. While they wait the disciples do several specific things.

1. They are gathered together. This is not individualistic waiting or meditating. They are together. Even in its earliest stages, preparing for its own birth, the church is a community. They are gathered together both in the temple and in the upper room, which was a meeting space in a home. They have both formal and informal gatherings.

2. They pray together. They spend time together in prayer, seeking God and building their relationship with him. They are waiting in conversation with God.

3. They deal with leadership issues. One of the key moves an organization needs to make to go from Good to Great, according to Jim Collins, is what he calls "getting the right people on the bus." In other words, put the right people in positions of leadership and influence. The whole business of casting lots for a replacement for Judas is about getting the right people into the organization.

4. They study the scriptures. Acts 1 doesn't specifically say they are reading their Bibles and talking about it, but notice how often Peter, in Acts 1-2, quotes specific scriptures that help him make sense of Jesus' death and resurrection, Judas' betrayal, and the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost. Peter has been digging in his Bible.

If churches, or church leaders, or individual Christians, are hungry for God to work in our lives, we would do well to spend some time learning from Acts 1. We need to be together -- praying, studying, and dealing with leadership issues -- so that when God decides it's time to move, we're ready.

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