Summary: The church must hold true to the fundamentals of the faith, but she needs to constantly adapt, meander, and reinvent herself.
Complications: The Need for A Meandering Church
1. Bernard Goldstein tells this story:
One of my pet peeves as a musician in a symphony orchestra is trying to follow the unpredictable beat of famous guest conductors. I didn’t realize how strongly the rest of the musicians felt until we were talking to someone from a university physics department at a reception. When I asked him what his field was, he answered, "I work with semiconductors." "So do we," I heard a colleague mutter. (Reader’s Digest)
2. Some people thrive on routine; others enjoy change and the unpredictable.
3. The Kingdom of God is both. On the one hand, some things stay the same; on the other hand, individual churches must meander as circumstances and cultures change.
4. The Church in Acts did a lot of meandering, and part of these changes were strategic.
5. God’s discipline of Ananias and Saphira changed the dynamic, and I will elaborate on this a little more later in the sermon.
6. In addition, Satan’s attacks vary, and the church must fight different fights. We do see a general two-fold strategy:
• First, he attacks the church from the inside.
• Second, he attacks the church from the outside.
He both musters forces against the church, and he joins the church.
7. Now the church could avoid lots of trouble if it compromised its commission, to go and make disciples of all nations; but then it would not be obedient to Jesus’ call to make disciples of all nations! But when the church is on the move, she creates waves. This changes the equation, meaning we must meander and re-strategize.
Main Idea: The church must hold true to the fundamentals of the faith, but she needs to constantly adapt, meander, and reinvent herself.
Let’s note the circumstances that caused the church to meander and adapt.
I. Great Effectiveness Resulted in ISOLATION (12-13)
A. Miracles ABOUNDED
Although Peter works the greater miracles, all the apostles are, vs. 12.
If you believe God created the universe out of nothing by just speaking the words, then miracles should be no problem for you. If you believe that God has all power, then miracles should be no problem for you.
Additionally, if miracles were common experiences and the norm, they would serve little function in calling attention to what God is actually doing.
B. Unbelievers Were INTIMIDATED
1. Christianity can be frightening to outsiders…for a number of reasons…
2. The Greek word, τολμα’ω, means "to dare"
3. In this case, it was frightening for all; hearing about Ananias and Sapphira, the people were probably afraid that if they rubbed Peter the wrong way, ZAP!
4. If the zapping of Ananias and Sapphira harmed the extent of their audience, then why did God do it? Because a pure church is more important than a big church!
5. The Sadducees were preaching against this sect, as were some Pharisees
6. Additionally, many Christians are not concerned about our image; we don’t intimidate, but we do turn off. If people reject the Gospel, let them reject the Gospel; but if they reject hearing the Gospel because of the legacy of Christians they met, that’s bad.
7. Illustration: … a Barna study asked people to use single words to describe Jesus. They responded, "wise, accepting, compassionate, gracious, humble." Then he asked them to use single words to describe Christians, they said, "critical, exclusive, self righteous, narrow and repressive." [Sermon Central]
C. Isolation is a prelude to PERSECUTION
1. Even though they met in a public place, they were isolated
2. The movie "Expelled" documented how Intelligent Design scientists are isolated
3. Political candidates and celebrities who take the Bible literally are mocked and become the brunt of sarcasm
4. Before Hitler persecuted the Jews, he socially isolated them
5. In India, the believers have been socially isolated…
The church must hold true to the fundamentals of the faith, but she needs to constantly adapt, meander, and reinvent herself.
II. OUTREACH Combated That Isolation (14-16)
A. LIFESTYLE evangelism outside of church meetings (14)
Lifestyle evangelism requires intermingling with people; if you only hang around Christians, you will have little opportunity to put a word in for the Lord. I don’t suggest you build friendships with lost people only to evangelize them. Enjoy people, participate in society’s decent activities. As you do, God will give you opportunities to share.
One benefit to intermingling is that it breaks the isolation and misconceptions people ave about Biblical Christianity.
B. PRACTICAL service exposed outsiders to the Gospel (15-16)
1. The PHYSICALLY sick
John 14:12, "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father."