Reading Acts 2 this morning, it struck me in verse 47 that the early Followers of Jesus had obtained something seemingly so elusive to current “Christians”:
“And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” – Acts 2:46-47 (emphasis mine)
We “Christians” have done much to lose the favor of others. Speaking only for myself, I believe I have come off as judgmental at times to people that don’t currently follow Jesus or when I have taken an argumentative stance disagreeing with their political views or life choices. If that’s not enough, some time ago I messed up things in my life (and in the lives of others) in a very public and humiliating way – while making the claim of being a Christian.
It’s no wonder at times I have been seen as a hypocrite. Does this hit home with you?
Shortly after these events in Acts took place, the Sanhedrin began to oppose the early Believers’ stance on life after death. Then, Stephen, the first recorded Christian martyr, was publicly executed. So the honeymoon was over and the persecution of Christians began.
The number of people coming to faith in Jesus has always grown in the midst of opposition. It also grows in the absence of opposition and while we have the favor of others – we attract people to our well-lived lives. Either way, faith will grow. In this world, God balances both persecution and favor.
How do we apply this in our daily lives?
Whether we find ourselves in a situation in which we feel under attack (for our faith, not our political position) or not, the choices in how we live our lives will best reflect the face of Christ. Think of the fruits of the spirit in Galatians – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. As others see these gifts in us, and catch this, regardless of our circumstances (while in favor or persecution) people in your life will be drawn to your faith in Jesus.
I read and pray for God to deliver these fruits to me regularly. Mediate on the fruits of the spirit and ask God to grow these fruits in your life.
[photo credit: billy graham library dot org]