The early church started simply—radically simple as believers met together, lived life together and shared what they had to meet the needs of the people around them.
In the book of Acts, the early church consisted of a small house, in a small city, in a small country to be the place God first sent His Holy Spirit. The church consisted of everyday people who were simply willing to be the hands and feet of Jesus by receiving His Spirit. Christ worked through Peter’s sermon that first day, spreading the gospel so that thousands heard the good news (Acts 2:14-40). That first sermon spread the gospel beyond the influence of the small circle like a holy ripple effect, as the Holy Spirit empowered each new believer to live transformed doing revolutionary things like selling everything to meet the needs of the people around them, and doing life with other sinners around them. The early church, through the Holy Spirit, learned to do life together in simple, intentional, and gracious ways.
The Spirit moved in ways that they could only imagine. The gospel continued to spread through the region regardless of the opposition that it received. Stephen, boldly, stepped out and challenged the generational idols. He lived by the Spirit to the point that as he was arrested and stoned, He proclaimed Christ. He continued to preach his guts out for the glory of God. He did not stop telling the world about the truth with his last breath.
Neither did the early church. The most common reaction to a tragedy like that would be to withdraw and allow emotions to settle down.
The Church did not back down. They continued to share the truth about Jesus regardless of the persecution they received from all sides. In their humanity, they could have recoiled and retreated after the tragedy. Instead, they were committed to love others for the sake of Christ without regard for their own lives. They proudly professed their faith wherever they went.
Thus, the gospel spread. The church scattered but not running to hide, rather it propelled them out to share the gospel in every corner of the world. Like a wave in the oceans, person after person impacted the communities they were placed in, and the gospel spread like wildfire to the ends of the earth.
The Christians did not simply wait for the Pharisees and opposition to challenge them, before they chose Jesus. They made Jesus and the gospel the most important thing in their life. They made the decision to follow Him all or nothing before they were placed in the situation to choose.
You do not simply decide to do something and immediately become good at it, rather you put in the time and effort into preparing, learning and training.
It is like a marathon. You do not simply go out one day and decide to run a marathon.
If you do, you will fail.
You train slowly over time, building up endurance, stamina, and speed.
You train and prepare to succeed.
Benjamin Franklin wrote, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. No truer words have ever been spoken.
Could you say now you would do if someone told you to deny Christ and die, like Stephen? The common response made by people today is “I hope I would….,” or “I believe that I would…., but one can’t know for sure until placed in that situation”.
The reality is that you can decide now.
You decide today what decision you will make at that moment when you are asked to lay your life down for the one who died on the cross for you.
It is a daily decision. One in which you choose Jesus day in and day out-practicing a habit of grace-living our daily lives as a testimony to the Holy Spirit inside us.
We choose to love the people around us. We invest in the people God has placed us in the vicinity of-choosing to do life with them. Bravely choosing to invest in the messiness of what it means to be a human living in community with other sinful humans.
Here is where grace comes in.
Grace. The realization that we are sinners and do not deserve the unmerited favor placed on us by the Creator of the universe.
But accepting the grace extended to us means we can be used by God throughout the simple actions of everyday life.
The grace extended by God to us today allows us to live into the same power of the Holy Spirit that the early church embraced. We can choose to live into the vast amount of untapped treasure we have at our disposal.
God still moves in vast ways today as we choose to enjoy getting to know Jesus, our loving Savior.
The reality is that is in the daily devotions, the prayer, and the fellowship with Jesus and others where you develop the habit of choosing Jesus in the small moments. You begin slowly building and deepening the relationship with simple habits of grace.