Summary: The church is the representation of Jesus in our world. We are his body enacting his presence.
1. Searching for Children
We regularly seem to hear about missing people, especially children. The Department of Justice has a 100 page book that can be downloaded which no parent wants to read. Its title is, "When Your Child is Missing." Key Bullet Points and Action Steps are on the cover -- You Are Not Alone; Hope is Essential; Trust Your Feelings and Share Them with Law Enforcement; Distribute Pictures; Keep Your Focus; Never Stop Looking. The book tells stories of parental searches; one family has been looking for their son since 1989. They post messages via the internet like, "We are still searching for you and will never quit."
Parents will spare no expense in looking for a missing child. The will do so with deep, resolute passion. So does God (Luke 15 -- sheep; coin; son). God initiated a three-phase plan to save his children.
* Phase 1 -- Israel -- the nation through whom he showed his character and by whom he called people to himself
* Phase 2 -- Sending his Son to reveal God and to provide "the way, the truth, and the life" so we could access the Father.
* Phase 3 -- the great Co-mission that the people of God have with him today -- to be Jesus to the world that is dying and lost without God
2. Acts 1.1-9
3. Consider the search and rescue role of the followers of Jesus:
I. We Are to Be an Expression of Jesus' Body
18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. Colossians 1.18
A. "Church" is more than a worship service
1. Emphasis on "Assembly" -- important
2. We do not stop being "church" outside the assembly
B. Church is a Functioning Community/Body of God's People
1. A Witnessing Community to the Reality of God (Edah)
2. Another incarnation of Jesus in the world
3. Temple -- 2 Corinthians 6.16b (For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,)
II. We Are an Empowerment of Jesus' Body (Matthew 28.20 -- with you always)
The Early Disciples Were :
A. Compliant to God's Son -- Acts 1.4
1. They stayed in Jerusalem
a. Easy to go back to the old life -- John 21.3
b. Easy to go back to old ways
c. Stayed obediently to Jesus and the word of God
2. They Waited for Shavuot (Pentecost)
a. One of three pilgrim feasts
b. Agricultural emphasis -- wheat harvest -- Ruth
c. Torah tradition -- receiving the word of God at Sinai
d. Traditionally the death of David
B. Consumed by God's Spirit (2.1-4)
1. Same sights and sounds as Sinai
2. Proclamation of God's good news in languages (70 languages at Sinai)
3. The message for them and us -- 2.36-41
C. Concerned with God's Saints -- 2.42-47
1. They held things in common
a. In spite of cultural differences -- Hellenized Jews and Israeli Jews
b. A Common Messiah -- especially seen in the loaf offerings at Shavuot
c. "Common" is the basis for community
2. The provided common care
a. "One another" passages
b. They took care of necessities (provision of daily bread -- sometimes supernaturally and sometimes naturally)
c. They took care with generous hearts -- tzedekah -- everyone in Israel was to give to the poor, even the poor -- widow's mites
1. Meaning Behind the Actions
In "Acts 29," Dr. Terry Teykl relates that one day the mayor of a small city was driving through the city square when he noticed 2 city workers doing something rather unusual. Along one side of the main street, they were working steadily. One of the men was digging a hole in the ground, and the other was filling it back up.
After watching them dig and fill several holes in this manner, the mayor, somewhat confused, confronted the 2 workers and asked for an explanation. "Well, sir," replied the first man, "we work for the city planting trees, and usually there are 3 of us - one to dig the hole, one to plant the tree, and one to cover it up. The guy who plants the tree called in sick today, but," he proudly announced, "we're here and we're doing our jobs anyway."
How easy it is to fall into the habit of just being at church - attend worship, attend more services, volunteer some time, give some money, and attend Sunday School. We can become so programmed, that like the tree planters, we totally lose sight of the meaning behind what we're doing.
The result is that after years of "doing" church, our relationships are still on the edge, our walk with God is in the same place it has always been, and our lost friends and family members are still without Jesus. We have passed the time, as if just being in the church building has been our main objective.
2. Let's Remember who we are and what we are about -- the expressed empowered body of Jesus