Summary: How to have fellowship with others? The key is to first have a real fellowship with God.
Acts 2:36-47: TOGETHERNESS WITH GOD, TOGETHERNESS WITH EACH OTHER
A few years ago I was in California, and I was walking down the street of one of those old western towns. Old buildings were on each side of me – the old bank, old stores, old homes – you could see where people used to live and shop. When I got to the end of the street. I turned the corner – and that’s when I realized that everything was fake. None of the buildings were real – they just looked real from the street. When you walked behind these buildings, you could see that they were just pieces of wood, propped up to look like buildings. I was at Universal Studios, walking through the set of one of those old western towns. Nothing was real – everything was fake.
Isn’t that how our relationships with other people can sometimes be? Nothing is real? Everything is fake? Maybe on the outside, it looks like you have a real friendship with somebody. But deep down, on the inside, you can sense that there is an emptiness there – something is missing, and you don’t know what it is. Sometimes our friendships, our bonds with other people, are like those buildings on that Hollywood set – they look good on the surface, but there’s really nothing underneath – no depth.
Why is that? What’s the cause of this problem? And how do you change a shallow, empty friendship into something deeper, something more meaningful? Today, as we look at God’s Word, we will find the secret to REAL TOGETHERNESS. It all begins with our relationship with God. And when that’s right, we find that our relationships with others can be more meaningful than we would ever expect.
We find the Apostle Peter preaching a sermon in our text for today. Let me give you a little background on the setting. It’s fifty days after Easter. Jesus has risen from the dead and has ascended into heaven. God has sent the Holy Spirit into Peter’s heart and has changed Peter into a confident disciple of Christ who wasn’t afraid to speak to the crowds. A crowd of people had gathered, and Peter was preaching to them. We catch Peter in the middle of his sermon when he says in verse 36: “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
Peter tells the crowd that they have a problem – they have no relationship with God. The people thought they could please God simply by being good people, living a decent life. “That’s good enough,” the people thought. And because of that, they had an “I don’t need Jesus” attitude. “I’m OK with God,” each person thought. “I don’t need Jesus. What do I need to believe in Jesus for? God likes me just the way I am. I’m a good person, and that’s good enough.” The people rejected Jesus, even to the point of handing him over to be crucified.
But the people were dead wrong. They weren’t in God’s good graces like they thought. If they were, then Jesus, whom they had crucified, would have stayed dead. But he didn’t stay dead. God the Father raised Jesus from the dead, showing the people that they were wrong for rejecting Christ. Their “I don’t need Jesus attitude” was wrong. The “God likes me just the way I am” attitude was wrong. They thought they had a relationship with God, but they didn’t. As it stood, they were all going to hell. Verse 37 says, “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’”
Isn’t our world plagued with an “I don’t need Jesus” attitude? “I’m OK without Jesus,” people say. “I’m a good person. What do I need Jesus for?” Our world believes that it’s OK to live a life without Jesus Christ, and as a result, our world rejects him, just like the people rejected Christ in the first century.
This “I don’t need Jesus” attitude can sneak into our way of thinking too. Even after you become a Christian, you still struggle with the “I don’t need Jesus” attitude. “What do I need Jesus for,” we say to ourselves, “I can get through the day without him. I don’t need to read his Word. I don’t need to talk to him in prayer. I can figure things out myself. I don’t need to hear his Word on Sunday. I think I’ll come every other Sunday. Or maybe once a month. Maybe just Christmas and Easter. Maybe not at all. I don’t need Jesus to be a part of my life.”
You and I may not reject him as blatantly as the world, but as Christians, we do struggle with this “I don’t need Jesus” attitude, and often give in. And in the eyes of God, our subtle rejection of Jesus Christ is just as damning as the blatant rejection of Christ in the first century. We also must turn to the Apostle Peter and say with the crowd, “Brothers, what shall we do?”