The contrast was striking. Just a short time before, descriptive words such as possessed, wild, untamed were used to describe the Demoniac of the Gadara. Now, as the people of the city crowd about him, he is simply described as clothed, and in his right mind. Luke 8:35
A wild man beyond the help of any mortal power was now sitting at the feet of Jesus in blissful peace. That had to be a sight to behold. What made the difference? He had an encounter with Jesus. His life before Jesus, no matter how good or how bad, could not compare to his life after Jesus. Not only was the physical transformation remarkable – he had gone from a man hopelessly wandering the tombs to becoming a man with a mission in life.
“Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you.” And he went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him. Luke 8:39
That miraculous transformation is a fitting example of the experience of the early church and a demonstration of the power of the Gospel.
Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. Acts 2:44-47
The selflessness, unity, simplicity, and affection displayed for each other was remarkable. It was love for Christ in action. They were in effect all sitting at the feet of Jesus and clothed in their right minds.
As a further indication of the transformational way of life for the early church, we have the story of Peter, John and the lame man. On the way to the temple, the two apostles encountered a man begging who had been lame from his birth.
I can only imagine that this lame man had heard stories of the miracles Jesus performed. Surely there must have been efforts to reach Jesus for a chance at healing, but alas, the Healer no longer walked among them.
As Peter and John prepared to enter the temple his request for alms was met by a command. “Look at us.” We will focus on the words that Peter said next:
Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” Acts 3:6
The apostles’ poverty was unrelated to their connection with heaven. What they did possess was of much more value than what they didn’t possess in silver and gold. While God has blessed many individuals with wealth, the lack of money and material possessions have never been an indicator of God’s disfavor.
Life in the early church was a display of what it looks like to not be consumed with the acquisition of wealth. It is a noteworthy example of what our attitude towards money should be – it is a tool to be used for the blessing of others.
The current of today’s society runs strongly towards acquiring wealth and the selfishness it often breeds. But thanks be to God, the Gospel received into the heart is an antidote to a never-ending search for happiness in material things. Our love is in God and our fellow man and not in our possessions.
The Bible condemns no man for being rich, if he has acquired his riches honestly. Not money, but the love of money, is the root of all evil. It is God who gives men power to get wealth; and in the hands of him who acts as God’s steward, using his means unselfishly, wealth is a blessing, both to its possessor and to the world. But many, absorbed in their interest in worldly treasures, become insensible to the claims of God and the needs of their fellow men. They regard their wealth as a means of glorifying themselves. They add house to house, and land to land; they fill their homes with luxuries, while all about them are human beings in misery and crime, in disease and death. Those who thus give their lives to self-serving are developing in themselves, not the attributes of God, but the attributes of the wicked one.
These men are in need of the gospel. They need to have their eyes turned from the vanity of material things to behold the preciousness of the enduring riches. They need to learn the joy of giving, the blessedness of being co-workers with God. Ellen White, Ministry of Healing, pg. 213
Praise God that the church of today has a template of success from the early church in Acts. May God give us ears to hear and hearts to receive His direction.
For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end; While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. Hebrews 3:14-15
Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:
- What does selflessness mean to you?
- What, if anything, can the church do to become more selfless?
- Why is the love of money the root of all evil?
- What is the balance between survival and pursuing riches?
- What is a Bible example of someone without much making a big impact in life?
- Is the following statement True, Mostly True, Somewhat True or Not True: The more prosperous we are, the easier it becomes to witness about God’s goodness and to win souls. Explain your answer.
We close this week’s lesson on Life in the Early Church with some related instruction from the greatest church organizer who ever lived. It’s a word to the wise.
Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. 1 Timothy 6:17-19
Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School!
Source: Daily Sabbath School Lessons