Acts 2: 43 “A deep sense of holy awe swept over everyone, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44 All the believers were in fellowship as one body, and they shared with one another whatever they had. 45 Out of generosity they even sold their assets to distribute the proceeds to those who were in need among them. 46 Daily they met together in the temple courts and in one another’s homes to celebrate communion. They shared meals together with joyful hearts and tender humility.”
I was taught to study the context in which a verse is placed in order to understand its’ meaning. Luke describes the unity of the early Christian church in the same paragraph and context of the signs and wonders performed by the apostles. I suggest to you this unity was just as much a sign and wonder to them as the diverse tongues, healing and deliverance they were experiencing.
Just weeks before the disciples fought over who was the greatest. Now they met together daily with joyful hearts and tender humility. What had humbled them? Surely the desert of disappointment the crucifixion of their Lord played a huge part. It is difficult to have concern over ego when your heart is broken. There was more at work.
How was a frightened group of disillusioned disciples changed into men who were clothed in confidence, who preached the gospel with boldness? I think it is overlooked the Holy Spirit clothed them with humility.
The Holy Spirit is not a thing, a dove or a wind, He is God. It was the Holy One, the One and Only and the One and the same Jesus who came upon those men and women and they were changed. To be full of the Holy Spirit is to be like Jesus! Listen to the apostle Paul: Philippians 2: “Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Look at a couple of those verses in the Passion translation: Verse 2 “So I’m asking you, my friends, that you be joined together in perfect unity—with one heart, one passion, and united in one love. Walk together with one harmonious purpose and you will fill my heart with unbounded joy. 3 Be free from pride-filled opinions, for they will only harm your cherished unity.”
Paul often talks about humility. He tells us in Galatians 3:27 that all who became Christians have in effect been clothed with Christ. He talks about it later in Colossians as a choice to clothe ourselves: 3:12 ” So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.”
I once heard humility likened to the restrained strength of a horse, it is not weakness. When I choose humility I am not making less of myself but simply restraining my strength to honour you.
Paul describes unity as everyone being intent on one purpose, and emphasis on opinions harms unity. The picture I used for the featured image of this post is a picture of unity. If you have ever watched rowing you know it should be appreciated for its beauty. Not one of the rowers stands out as the best rower. The unity of the team is expressed in the unison of timing, in the same direction, for the same purpose which is what makes them successful.
When we insist on our own pre-eminence, on having our own way we can, in effect, be pulling against the team. Is it wrong to have an opinion? We all have them, not sure if that makes it right, for these need to be submitted to the mind of Christ. Which brings me back full circle to Philippians “Have this mind in you which was in Christ who did not count equality with God as something to be grasped”
Remember the Tower of Babel? God used different languages to separate people in the first place because it was said that because of their unity nothing would be impossible for them, and the intent of their heart was for evil and must be prevented. The renewal of the Holy Spirit gives us new hearts making unity possible once again.
Just as in Acts 2, for such unity to exist among us would indeed be sign and wonder, and nothing would be impossible. We cry out for such a work of your Spirit again, God.