So this week I was given the task of preaching on Acts 2:42-47, what the NIV calls “The Fellowship of the Believers.” Normally being given this text to preach is every preacher’s dream. Its so easy! You just preach about community and how to do church! To a certain extent I can resonate with this. I have done it a million times…as the Lifegroup Director for Rocky Peak’s college group, SOMA, it’s a passage that I am constantly going back to whether it be for Lifegroup trainings or for conversations with leaders. On top of this I have even have written about it at length in this blog. (See https://cwoznicki.wordpress.com/2012/03/21/simple-smallgroups-pt-2-biblical-life-groups/ ) I have written that in this passage there is a relational pattern, 2- a spiritual growth pattern, and 3- a missional pattern. In other words, in the language of Soma’s culture we see believers 1-encountering Christ, 2-being community, 3-being on mission. So the challenge of preaching this passage is to say something that hasn’t already been said, its to approach it from a different angle. On top of that the challenge is not to be simply descriptive as to what the Christian community is supposed to be like, this is not an official blueprint for Church. Also the challenge not to make it prescriptive. We don’t want to turn this into imperatives. We don’t want to say… Go be loving! Go be generous! Go pray! Because these actions were spontaneous for the early church (spontaneous in the sense that it came from within rather than simply being random.) We can’t force people to be loving or generous or prayerful. On top of those three challenges (1-don’t repeat what has already been said, 2-don’t merely be descriptive, and 3-don’t merely give imperatives) there is the ultimate challenge of any sermon… how do we point this to Christ?
Pointing the Sermon To Jesus
Karl Barth says that the Bible becomes the word of God when the Spirit takes it and points it to Jesus. Maybe you don’t agree with this… but he applies this logic to sermons too. Barth ends up saying that a sermon becomes the word of God when the Spirit takes it and points it to the Word of God, Jesus Christ himself. I completely agree with this latter point. A sermon becomes God’s word for God’s people when the Spirit makes Jesus appear wonderfully glorious to them. This is why a sermon is an act of worship, because it points people to Jesus and says “Look at Christ! Look at how glorious he is! Look at the honor and glory and praise he deserves because of who he is and because of what he has done for us!” So if the sermon becomes a sermon when it points people to Jesus it means that in church we can end up with people who aren’t giving sermons. They might certainly be teaching the Bible, they might certainly be giving us great truths from Scriptures. If they are doing this they are teaching but they certainly aren’t preaching. I don’t want to teach Acts 2:42-47. I want to preach Acts 2:42-47. I want to make it point to Jesus. The goal of a sermon on Acts 2:42-47 is to take “The Fellowship of the Believers” and make you want to worship Jesus for what he has done. This is the challenge I face this week. But as I am starting to read this passage and really dive into it I begin to see Jesus all over the place. I begin to see the cross all over the place. I begin to see the gospel all over the place….
The Church is the community formed around the cross for the sake of God’s glory…