2–8 April 2017.

Acts 4:23–37 (click to read).

Today we often hear people talk about unity. Politicians and church pastors often encourage us all to join together, and we think this type of unity is great. Sometimes it really is! But is unity always good?

Sometimes people join together to do evil, to promote injustice, or use their power together to hurt others. That’s what we saw in the story of Jesus’s crucifixion. The Roman leaders, the Israelite leaders, the Jewish religious leaders, and even all the common people, both Jews and Gentiles, united together as one. And what did they unite to do? To crucify the Son of God. In today’s reading, vv. 26 and 27 remind us of this terrible truth: that sometimes people (even religious people) join together in order to work against God.

But in Acts 4 the early Christians show us what true unity is all about. In v. 24 the believers begin by uniting to pray together, to pray for the courage to preach the good news. It’s easy for us to think that spreading the good news is only the pastor’s job, and that we just use words to do it. But neither of those ideas is true. All of us, whether we are pastors or not, are called to spread the good news. And often the best way to do that is not just by using words, but through our actions. In our actions we give a witness to the way Christ has changed our lives. By caring for others, by being an example of love and compassion to those around us, we testify to the real power of Christ to change us, and to change our world.

So that’s what the early Christians did. Whereas the Jews and the politicians and the common people united in hate, in vv. 32–37 we see unity done properly. The Christians united in love: in their love and care for one another. They were so united that there were no poor people among them. Believers found ways to share with each other, and care for those in need. They chose a different way of living together, in love, not in hate.

It seems like a miracle! How could such a thing happen? But when we are really united in the love of God, when we are joined in heart and mind, and focussed on caring for each other the way that Christ commands us, that’s when we really do see amazing things happen.

Pastor Stephen Lakkis