When Paul and his companions had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah,” he said. Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women. But other Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason’s house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other believers before the city officials, shouting: “These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here, and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.” When they heard this, the crowd and the city officials were thrown into turmoil. Then they made Jason and the others post bond and let them go. As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men. (Acts 17:1-12)
We are all basically self-centered people. We think we are smarter than others and that life is always about us. But going to church does not make us Christians. If God is not free to work in us, it is impossible to live this life as a true follower of Christ. Acts 17:6 tells us that Paul and his companions turned the world upside down. We need to follow their example and not be like those who accused them.
How did they do it? With commitment.
It is not about how you feel. We must commit to God and obey whether we want to or not. Our obedience to God should not be situational; it is a commitment that is inspired by the Holy Spirit in us.
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. (1 Peter 4:12-16)
When we are suffering for the name of Jesus, we share in His suffering. Christ warned us that suffering would be normal in a Christian’s life. Believers in the days of Peter and Paul were ostracized and tortured. No wonder the world was turned upside down by the inexplicable joy of the Early Church. We must learn to rejoice when we part take of God’s suffering (1 Peter 4:14).
Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:41-47)
The Early Church was a community. They experienced the mysterious unity of the body of Christ. The Church is also the bride of Christ and the army of God. Revival was a norm, and the Church was vibrantly alive.
How can this be true in us? We need the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised us the Holy Spirit, whom He called the Helper. You are not alone or an orphan; He lives inside of you and will give you passion and increase your faith as you seek and obey Him.
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:16-18)