“To follow Jesus implies that we enter into a way of life that is given character and shape and direction by the one who calls us.” Eugene Peterson
So you have this moment in the story of Jesus, where in his death, resurrection and departure, he has called his followers to disciple others into the life he lived with them. They gather and pray together for what is next. Through the arrival of the power of the Holy Spirit, the helper Jesus promised, they share Jesus’ story in a way that everyone present could understand. All who were able to hear wanted to know what they needed to do. It says in response they repented and were baptized. Repentance meant turning and going in a complete new life direction and baptism symbolizing the death to the old life and the beginning of a new life; a way of life. These people had just been given an opportunity to live the life of Jesus that was free from the heavy burden of life politically, socially, religiously, and culturally.
How did they begin to live into this new life? It says in Act 2:42-47 that they devoted themselves to some basic things to learn how to live into this new life, a Jesus centered life. They were devoted to hearing from the disciples the teachings of Jesus. They were devoted to fellowship, a common life together; common interests, goals, character, and life rhythms. They shared meals together; something powerfully life giving around a meal. They devoted themselves to praying together.
What was the fruit from such a devoted common life together? They were in awe of the many things God did through them in the lives of others. They began to live an even more intentional life together sharing everything with one another; including all personal material things and money with all those in need. They focused their attention on God everyday at the Temple and met in homes daily sharing meals with great joy and generosity; taking communion together to remember what Jesus had done for them. And because they lived this way, authentically following in the ways of Jesus together, the Lord added to their common life together (fellowship) those whos lives were now saved from life’s burdens.
I wonder what would happen if we as Christians, Jesus followers, oriented our lives together in the same devoted life? What would happen to our lives? Would we see the awesome work of God in the lives of those around us? Would our lives look radically different from those around us? Would people desire our way of life to be free from the burdens that culturally, socially, politically, and religiously are put on us all?
Have we, the American church, allowed our culture to shape what our common life together in Jesus looks like? Have we gotten so busy with life in our culture that we literally have no time/space/capacity to even begin to live this kind of life together? Have we gotten so accustomed to life in our culture that we expect the church to reflect that life? It might be that to follow Jesus means to turn and go in another direction from what our culture is telling us in order to find the life we are looking for.