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. – Acts 2:42-44

     Family is one of the most cherished parts of life. Family are the people we fight for, we stand up for, and sometimes the people we fight with the most. But, no matter what seems to happen we love them and we cherish them because of our relationship with them.

    We have an investment in them. Sometimes as we grow up friends become like family. We have probably even seen friends become as close as blood family. I have personally experienced being welcomed into families because they invested in me and wanted to invite me into what they had. Your family are those closest with you who will be there through the hardest parts of your life.

    Now before we dive into the scripture today, I want to bring up another narrative in the texts of scripture. It is from Genesis 11:1-9 and it is about the Tower of Babel. The people of the earth were all in one place and they had united with one task in mind. But, the unity was not for the sake of the Lord. They had gathered in unity for their own glory (vs. 4). They were getting stronger with the aim to oppose the Lord rather than unifying for Him. And so, the Lord came and dispersed man across the planet and made it so that there were multiple languages and they did not understand each other. 

     Moving to the book of Acts chapter two!

     This is a triumphal moment in scripture. And, with Babel in mind it is more than just the moment of the Holy Spirit coming, that moment is astounding enough, it is the reversal of Babel. Jesus after raising from the dead went to heaven and still left the world divided as it had been since the time of Babel. But now, He sent the Holy Spirit to enable every tribe and every nation, that’s languages had been obscured, to be able to hear of and praise God again! He transformed what was once a divided canyon into a hopeful open field. The landscape has changed, and so have people’s hearts, purpose, and perspective.

     All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? – Acts 2:4-8

God’s Bridge produces innumerable Doors,

so that everyone has an entrance to God’s Family!

     God’s gift to those worshipping Him was and is profound. We can be unified with no barriers. The Holy Spirit opened up doors that had been closed. Yes, people could have studied and learned other languages and some people did and do that. But, What God was saying was even more transformative and revolutionary. God is tearing down the barriers He put up.

     This text is specifically for the God fearing Jews, but as the narrative of Acts continues God continually sends His people to share who He is with more and more people. He tears down more and more walls. More than that, He makes it so that everyone, so that you, can become family with anyone.

    An amazing, and underappreciated, passage in the Old Testament is Isaiah 19:24-25. In which the Lord speaks of a day when two nations, empire, who were the definition of slavery and oppression to the people of God, saying,  In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth. The Lord Almighty will bless them, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance.”

    There is hope for the people of the world. There has been a plan from of old well before the first followers of Jesus’s ministry started to reunite the people of the world in worship to God. God had been and now has a made a way for all to come to know Him. There are a lot of promises in the Old Testament for the Jews, this one is for the gentiles, for us.

   No longer are there any obstacles for people to know God other than that they have not heard of who He is and their own choice not to know Him. God has removed the divisions and opened the door for all people to know Him.

   People who were enemies of God are now welcomed into the fold of God’s people. People who were the reason for torment, the definition or at the very least synonymous with pain and oppression were now the determined to be welcomed and equal with the worshipers of God!

   The Prophet Joel says this,

And afterward,

     I will pour out my Spirit on all people…

And everyone who calls

     on the name of the Lord will be saved;

     for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem

    there will be deliverance, – Joel 2:28a & 32a

       Paul was writing to the Galatians and Colossians about the unity now found in Christ through the power of new life found in the Holy Spirit.

     He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. – Galatians 3:14

     …put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. – Colossians 3:10

     The bridge has been built! The bridge cost a tremendous amount to build and nothing for us to go across. We may not have language barriers in our communities, but we do have numerous other barriers that we have erected. We often mistake the identity of being a believer with our own identity. There are clear examples of what it means to live for God, there are not clear descriptors in scripture that say what you must look like or be to live for God.

     Think about it. What keeps the people you know from God? Is it lifestyle, their background, their occupation that you might not relate with, is it where they are from that you might not understand. In the letter to the Colossians Paul talks about unity with “Barbarians!” Barbarians has never been an endearing term. A slave, was nothing to be proud of and others might not really relate with them.

     But, Jesus opened the doors, he has shown you that everyone is welcome in. The barriers have been torn down!

Who have you welcomed into your family, the family of God?

     Here’s the second thrust of this section the Apostles preached about Jesus devoting themselves to teaching, community, and remembering Jesus sacrifice. The people were able to believe in Jesus because others stepped out, spoke up, and helped others in need. We must have the aim of uniting others in Christ by actively speaking about God and showing who He is by what we say and do. The miracles of God are not what we can replicate, but we are able to replicate the early believer’s charity and kindness.

    But, here’s the thing about that, truth must be spoken and who Jesus is must be known. Peter went before a crowd of on lookers who saw these few people, who believed in Jesus. speaking in languages they should not have known and that it was spectacular. They were intrigued as to what this was all about and Peter explained:

     “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. – Acts 2:22-24

       Did you catch that? Peter accurately held the people listening accountable for the death of Christ. In the ESV translation of the Greek it says, “…you crucified and killed….” Similarly, we are held accountable for our own sins. We and all those we come in contact broken. Not that we all are failures at life, rather that we have all sinned and lived for ourselves rather than God, just like those at the Tower of Babel. But, now there is hope! We recognize our sinfulness and rejoice in the abundance of grace found in and through Jesus’s death and resurrection.

    Yes, living for yourself rather than God is a sin. Yet, Jesus, God in human flesh, willingly gave Himself up and went to the cross so that we could know and have grace as well as a resurrection to life eternal in unity with Him as well as all who believe in Him. He raised from death because it could not hold Him and so that we too would be freed from the chains of death.

     As we call others to believe in Jesus we are not just addressing who He is, we also must address who we all are. I need forgiveness for my selfish arrogance. I need healing for childhood and adult traumas that have left life-long mental and emotional scars. We all need Him for breath and life, but we also simply need Him for everything. The question is whether or not we recognize that and live accordingly.

     The first premise of living accordingly is whether or not we love Him. Secondly, living for God is loving others no matter who they are and what they have done. Honestly, this is the harder of the two. It is easier to cognitively want to live for God than to choose to repeatedly be kind to people who hurt you. It is difficult enough to choose to tolerate the people who annoy you, let alone being challenged to love them. And, it is harder still to know how to love someone so different from you that you’ll actual insult them more often than show them love.

     That’s a real issue, how do you genuinely love someone that you don’t know how to show them love. How do you show love to a complete stranger on the street that wants to be left alone? Does leaving them alone count as loving them? If so, then how do I tell them and show them the love of Jesus?

     Is, loving them less than or equal to telling them about Jesus? Is, telling them about Jesus greater than or equal to loving them? Or, are they one in the same?

     It is so abstract. But, you are not loving them for the sake of eternity if you don’t share who Jesus is, but just sharing who Jesus is, is not sufficient to satisfy your call to love.

    Here’s the thing, Peter gave a challenge to the people:

     Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” – Acts 2:36

     There were about three thousand people who believed and were baptized that day. And, what happened next was even more spectacular.

     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. – Acts 2:42-44

How have you devoted your life to God’s Word

and to the Family of Christ?

     Someone spoke truth into the lives of people, real people, and real lives were changed for eternity. What’s more than that the people’s lives were changed today. The people who did not have common languages, and had not known each other prior were now believers in Christ Jesus. And so, as believers in Christ they invested in one another, cared for one another, and became family to one another.

     Earlier I spoke about family being there through the roughest parts of life. As this early church became like family they had to struggle through internal struggles and eventually more than just the leaders endured threats on their lives. The church had to become family. The believers in God became the support and strength of one another.

     When we tell someone about Jesus and talk to them about eternity we are inviting them to know more than just God. When you invite someone to know Jesus you are inviting them to know you. You are inviting them into the family of God, the Body of Christ.

     Yes, family can be dysfunctional, and even the early church was. But, as you gaze toward eternity with God, do you remember that the body of Christ, the church, you are with now will be in eternity with God…and you. You will be spending eternity with the brothers and sisters in Christ who you have fought with, who have hurt you and you have hurt.

    Your current church family, those who have left the church, those in the church you left, and those who you will get to know later will be in eternity as a Family. Like these early believers use your common love for God to bridge the gap to love each other. 

    Show how the love of God for eternity is played out through the people of God today. We aim to learn about God so that we can imitate Him, and one of the easiest things to learn about God is how He makes ways to invite others to be with Him. How are you inviting others to be with God and you?

     The family of God is also what we are inviting people into when we invite them to know God for eternity. How are you at loving the people of God? Who from church have you invited over, or into your family, this month? How is the Body of Christ your family?

     How are you impacting someone’s life for Jesus on a regular basis? Who are you pouring into?