Summary: The church is one in heart and soul.
PROPOSITION: The church is one in heart and soul.
OBJECTIVE: To lead the church to be one in heart and soul.
The scripture readings for the next several weeks are of the primitive church following the ascension of our Lord on the Day of Pentecost. Prior to today’s reading, Peter has preached several sermons with dramatic results. On his call to repent, several thousands have believed and were baptized.
The first group of believers met in their homes. There were no impressive, expensive, pompous buildings. Today’s reading gives us evidence how this primitive Christian Church of some 5,000 believers worshipped. Luke is explaining the process of the beginning and development of the Christian church in his second letter written to Theophilus. Luke tells him that the result of the preaching of Peter and a couple of the other disciples following the resurrection of Jesus has been nothing less than amazing.
Although this particular piece of scripture would often be used in a message on financial and possession stewardship, I find it more advantageous to look at the mind set of this church. The Bible tells us in 4:32: that “all the believers were one in heart and soul (or mind).” John Robertson, a gifted and recognized Greek scholar, interpreted this phrase as “One heart and soul was in the believers.” Whichever way you want to place the subject, one this is certain – the church of Jesus Christ is one in heart and soul.
Sometimes when I listen to NPR, I hear the stories of Lake Woebegone as told by the great storyteller, Garrison Keeler. There are books dedicated to this fictional place and all that happens among the people. One thing that seems most apparent is that they all get along, even when they did not get along. By all appearances, they are of one heart and soul.
Dorothy tried to reach this type of place as she journeyed over the rainbow and spent time in the Land of Oz. The point of her journey was learning that she did not have to make a trip into “never-never land” to find such a place, but that it was at home where every one was the same in heart and soul.
Lake Woebegone and Oz are places of fantasy. They do not exist except between the covers of books, in the stories of fiction writers, found on the shelves of libraries and bookstores. But that is not true of the account of the church of believers. The Bible tells us that the believers were of one heart and soul.
This gathering of believers would come together on regularly scheduled times and places with one heart and soul. They would enter the assigned place with big smiles on their face. The welcome would be by everyone to everyone with warm embraces, meaningful hand shaking, kind and sincere pats on the back. Greetings were warm and concerned.
There were no bulletins that had to be followed with strict regimentation. There was no set order of service. Yet during the gathering, the people would sing songs of praise. They would praise God and pray with adoration and sincere feelings. Then they would quiet down, sit attentively and listen with full attention as the Apostles would tell of their personal experiences with Jesus. From time to time, someone would tell of a miraculous healing of a friend or loved one. Another would share with a blessing directly from the Lord Jesus.
Following would be a pot-luck dinner. People brought what they had to be shared with everyone. This was a community pulsing with the love of God, percolating with the power of the Holy Spirit.
From time to time, I have heard church members, even preachers bemoan the situation of the world today and expressed a desire that this type of church still existed. I am here to tell you that this church does exist. It exists right here, right now at this chapel. As a mirror is held before us, you should be able to see a lively pocket of the Church, looking every bit the spittin image of the ancestral church about whom you read in Acts 4. The truth of the matter is that God is still using you who follow His Son to save the world. God is still having impact on the world and this community with believers like you who are the Church, being one in heart and soul.
Lest anyone think there was no disagreement in that first church, there was. When 5,000 – when 50 people - come together, there is bound to be someone, at least one, who will disagree with something. There were exceptions. However, know that the exceptions only proved the rule of “One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, One God and Father of all : (Eph 4:4f) and the church moved forward with one heart and soul.