Summary: A sermon about being the Church.
"The Happiest of All"
Most of us want a better way of living and working, but most of us don't know what a better way of living and working is.
Since tens of thousands of books have been and continue to be written on these issues; there can be no doubt that many, many--way too many of us are not happy or are simply dissatisfied.
Let's face it, we live in a world which has an unhealthy preoccupation with making money, and this is soul-destroying for everyone involved.
Because when making money is the dominant value of a human being, this leads to behaviors that end up destroying who we are and what we were created for.
Any expert on the human psyche will tell us that focusing on others rather than ourselves is what makes us happy.
Preoccupation with self makes us miserable.
A recent survey by Forbes magazine posted an article on "How to be Happy at Work."
Along with that article they named what they called "The Top Ten Happiest Jobs."
Can you guess the number one happiest job in the world?
Clergy--that is Pastors, Preachers.
And the reason they give for this is that "the least worldly [people] are reported to be the happiest of all."
That's not what our culture would have us think...
Can you guess the second "Happiest Job?"
The reason given for this is because the job is about "helping people."
Someone who replied to this article online wrote: "Funny...my husband is a firefighter and practically skips to work, and I'm a Marketing Associate, on the path to be a Marketing Manager...I don't nearly have the job satisfaction as he and his crew do."
Another person wrote, "As a pastor I totally agree and was glad to see clergy ranked #1.
But the article also confirms what we often tell people in our church--happiness is giving your life away."
Another of the top ten "Happiest Jobs" is Special Education Teachers.
See what these jobs have in common?
They are about giving yourself for the betterment of others...
...they aren't the highest paying jobs in the material sense, but they are in the most important sense.
I won't name the "top ten most unhappy jobs", but most all are well-paid.
Of course, nothing is perfect.
The work of a Pastor, firefighter or Special education teacher is hard, but it is satisfying.
And that is what matters.
As we look at our Scripture Lesson for this morning we see a picture of a happy bunch of folks.
You'd think they had just won the lottery or something.
But that couldn't be farther from the truth.
For one thing, instead of collecting winnings and becoming rich; they were giving their money and property away or at least sharing what they had with others.
Money and material possessions had become fairly inconsequential to them.
Greed had been transformed into a deep desire to share.
Selfish desires had been transformed into a desire for community, and simplicity.
Last week we celebrated Pentecost, that is, the birth of the Church of Jesus Christ.
The Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles; Peter stood up and gave the first Christian sermon--and about three thousand people were saved on that first day!!!
Today, in our Scripture Lesson, we see the Church doing what they began to do on a daily basis after this.
This is our first glimpse of the lifestyle of the first Christian Church.
And what a happy bunch!!!
And the "ministers" of the church were all the members.
All of them were looking out for the needs of others.
All of them were demonstrating "God's goodness to everyone."
All of them were "united and shared everything."
The rich gladly sold property and shared the proceeds with the needy.
They "shared meals" with one another.
They prayed together.
They learned together.
It says they "devoted themselves" to learning.
They "shared everything."
"Every day, they met together...and ate in their homes."
"They shared food with gladness and simplicity."
"They praised God."
They had gone from 120 members in Acts 1:15 to about 3,000--in a day.
And the outside world was watching.
They were watching their behavior.
They took note of their radical economic transformation--it was "other worldly."
"God [was] perform [ing] many wonders and signs through the apostles."
All the new Christians were demonstrating "God's goodness to everyone."
A new world...a new kingdom was taking form.
Historians from that time wrote that the people were saying, "Look how the Christians love each other!!! I want to know more about that. I want to be part of that!!!"
"Look how happy they are."
"I want to be happy too."
And we are told that "The Lord added daily to the community those who were being saved."