Pastor Stephen Muncherian
August 8, 1999
I invite you to turn with me to our text - Acts 2:44-47.
During our time in Armenia our group visited a lot of churches. One thing Armenia has is a lot of churches. Each one is unique - somehow beautiful in its own way. At each church our guide explained how the church was built - when it was built - who built it - why it was built. These church buildings are monuments - tourist attractions - museums.
In contrast - in Acts 2:44-47 there’s a description of the living church - the living Body of Jesus Christ. For a few minutes we’d like to consider what the living church looks like - what it does - how it acts.
Acts 2:44-47: “And all those who had believed were together, and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. And day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
Acts 2:44 says that the believers had all things in common - they were servants of each other.
On the night before Jesus was crucified He shared His last meal with the disciples. During the meal there’s a discussion among the disciples as to which one of them was the greatest. (Luke 22:24) Jesus takes off his clothes - puts on a towel - and in the manner of a servant washes the feet of the disciples. (John 13:5)
Jesus said to them, “I’m giving you an example - you do what I did to you.” (John 13:15) “Let him who is the greatest among you become the youngest, and the leader as the servant.” (Luke 22:26)
There are so many ways that we compare ourselves with others. If we have special abilities or talents we’re tempted to think that we’re more important than others. On the other hand - many are tempted to think less of themselves - we don’t have the same noticeable abilities and talents as others. There’s a danger in the church - that some exercise control - or by default are given that authority and rulership over the church that God never intended.
The example that Jesus holds each of us accountable for - is servanthood. The church is a partnership of servants - serving each other in service to Jesus Christ.
Acts 2:45 says that these fellow servants - the believers cared for each other. They took care of each others physical needs.
Jesus told His disciples, “A new commandment I give you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (John 13:34)
In Armenia today the average monthly pension is $10. It is impossible to live on $10 per month. If one stretches their money, $10 might be enough to cover food for a couple of weeks. But, how does the rent get paid? the utilities? Medical care needs to be paid for in advance - and if you get sick and can’t pay - you die. This was the way it was in Jesus’ day.
In contrast - imagine the church - the sharing of clothing and food - doctors who give freely of their time to care for the ill who can’t afford to pay - car mechanics who donate their time to repair the cars of single moms and widows - landlords who reduce rent or charge no rent so that a believer will have a place to live - florists who share flowers with the sick - shoe repair people who repair shoes without charge - labors of love for their brothers and sisters in Christ.
If we start thinking about this - there is not one of us here who cannot share something to express the love of Jesus to our brothers and sisters. That’s what the church in Acts was doing - sharing as anyone might have need.
Acts 2:46 says that the believers had fellowship together in Jesus Christ. They were sharing meals in each other’s houses - with purity of motivation - their minds focused on Jesus.
One thing about Armenian Armenians they are very "houraser" - hospitable. Unless you’ve experienced this - its hard to fully describe. People who have very little - giving everything so that guests feel like they’ve become a part of the family.
At meals they fill the table with so much food - "varounk" - "loleeg" - "baneer" - "hatz" - madzoun" - "buhdough" - "khorovadz" - food that goes on and on and on - and when you’re stuffed and ready to pop - they bring out the watermelon - and cake - and coffee. There’s an innocence to this that’s wonderful - hospitality - the desire to make people feel a part of your family.
We face a danger of focusing on ourselves. When we invite people over - or host an event - we’re tempted to think, “What will people think of me if I don’t put out the right type of spread?” There’s a temptation to do as much or more than others. Hospitality becomes entertainment - an act of pride.
In Acts - the believers are focused first on their relationship with Jesus Christ. Their salvation is only because of the broken body and shed blood of Jesus Christ. Salvation is only by God’s grace not personal merit. No one is more holy or more righteous than the other. There is no room for self centered pride.
Fellowship is not competition. Fellowship doesn’t focus on us - it focuses on God. Fellowship is a celebration of God’s grace and a renewing of our relationship together in Jesus Christ - a joyful coming together to experience life as the Body of Christ.
In Acts 2:47 says that it the midst of this type of relationship the believers were praising God. Everything they did testified of who God is - all that He had done and was doing in their lives.
The result of all this - verse 47 - is first that they had a high approval rating in the community. And second, that the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.
People - from outside the church saw what was going on in the church and they wanted to be a part of it. When the church acts like the church it is very attractive to those outside the church. The type of relationship we share in Jesus Christ is unique - the serving one another - the caring and love - the fellowship - the working of God in our lives - is something that doesn’t exist anyplace else. And as human beings we crave this kind of community. And so, people are attracted to the church.
As people came to the church they found that the source of all this is Jesus. They came to trust in Him as their Savior. Daily people were coming to salvation in Jesus.
Today we’ve talked about missions in Armenia. With that we also should consider our mission here. We live in the 4th largest metropolitan area in the country - 6 million plus people - the technological capital of the world - a tourist mecha - a city that sets many of the trends for the rest of the world.
God has strategically placed this
church here - for the
Armenians - and
for the entire San Francisco community - and beyond.
What will be the
testimony of this church? The Bay Area needs the
testimony of this
church of Jesus Christ - living and acting as the Body
of Christ - so
that each person in the Bay Area will know His salvation
- His life -