The church in America has generally appeared to have lost it’s focus. For the past several decades the church’s focus has been largely individualistic, frequently politically motivated, and self-centered. A majority of Sunday messages seem to be about our making a decision for Jesus, what He can do for us to bless us, and what He can do through us because of how obedient we think we are to Him. But as the pastor elaborated through Acts chapter 2, God desires all of His children - corporately AND individually - to experience the blessings and gifts of His Spirit that He poured out on Pentecost.
As we start out in the first portion of the chapter we see the fulfillment of the promise Jesus gave to the disciples in John 14 and Acts 1. The first notable thing is that the crowd heard the sound and came to where the disciples were. This did not happen behind closed doors or on a secluded mountain side. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit transpired in the middle of town during one of the busiest times of the year. The Father meant for this gift to be given to the world. And what better way than to unwrap it in the presence of people gathered together from practically the entire known world at the time. Even the prophecy Peter quoted spoke of the Lord pouring His Spirit out on ALL humanity, not just a select few such as church leaders or the super-spiritual.
And it will be in the last days, says God,
that I will pour out My Spirit on all humanity... - Acts 2:17
After the rousing message from Peter and the crowd’s response to it, Peter tells them to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus. He emphasizes the individuality of this act of when he says “each of you”. The implication is that the person next to us or a family member responding in faith to the gospel doesn’t automatically encompass us. We must each individually respond by faith to the gospel. Yet in the following verses, Peter tells us this promise is not meant to be greedily hoarded and lived out in isolation as individuals, but to be shared together and lived out in community as family.
Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. - Act 2:44
Because of our sin nature, we are all intrinsically selfish: “What’s in it for me, what can I do to manipulate this circumstance to conclude with me on top”. But when the Lord opens our hearts to the gospel we repent and there is a supernatural realignment of our focus from ourselves to those around us. We see this played out in the last portion of Acts 2 as the new believers came together as a new community, sharing possessions, meeting together daily, and how the Lord added daily to the newly born church.
Today in the church, we need to remember that while we are still plagued with an individual, self preserving sin nature, God proved His love for us by forgiving and justifying us through the death and resurrection of Jesus for us. This frees us to share in His love with one other. It is the gospel that creates a new kind of community, which is for everyone, regardless of ethnicity, cultural or social backgrounds, sexual orientation, or any other contrived divisions we can imagine. There is no condition or limitation on Acts 2:21 which reads WHOEVER calls on the name of the Lord WILL be saved. The same inclusive theme is for the gift of the Holy spirit as we see in Acts 2:39. God’s promises are not just for me and a select few, they are for you and all of us together.
John Clark is a husband to Julie, a father of one son living in Valrico, Florida. He has an Associate Degree of Theology from Life Christian University, and serves at Life Center of Brandon where he is a teacher and writer.