In our recent study of Jonah we learned about God’s compassionate nature and how He desires to show mercy. Jonah was happy enough to receive mercy from God for himself, but he could not stand it when others (especially his enemies) received mercy from God. Jonah wanted his enemies to receive justice, not mercy. But God’s love is bigger than that, His compassion is greater than that. And He wants to enlarge our capacity so that we might extend love, mercy and grace even as He does.
We compared Jonah with the teaching of Jesus in the Gospels and found this same emphasis on God’s compassionate nature and His delight in showing mercy to needy sinners like you and me. God saw the plight of the wicked Ninevites and He desired to do something about it. He did not purpose to destroy them, but to move them to repentance. Jonah, a needy sinner who had received mercy from God, should have willingly extended mercy to the Ninevites.
We desire to be a church that delights in the mercy of God. Delighting in it, we share it with others. We want others to experience the same rescue that God has done for us. So now we ask, “How are we going do that?” How are we going to effectively reach out with the Good News of Jesus Christ? Jesus was known as a friend of those who were looked down on by self-righteous religious people, but too often today those who fill church pews resemble the self-righteous rather than Jesus.
Luke writes of a church that had a better reputation, and we want to follow their example. The Jerusalem church in the book of Acts models for us a better way. It was a community of believers in Jesus who were transformed by the Gospel, which was at the center of all they did. For them, the Gospel is not just the message of salvation from the punishment of Hell, it is the Good News of new life in Jesus Christ. This Good News shaped the way this community lived. These Christian brothers and sisters were hospitable, humble, and holy, and it commended their message of new life through faith in Jesus.
Acts 2:42 has been a model we are committed to patterning our church after. It describes a Good News community, one that brought praise to God and new life to many souls. We desire to be such a community. To that end we will look at this passage and several others over the next 6 weeks as we ask God to transform our lives, to make them what He wants them to be.
Who is going to believe a message about new life from people who are living the same way as everyone else? We must believe the Good News about Jesus, be remade by it, and share it with others who need to hear it too. When we are known for our hospitality, humility, and holiness, then our Good News community will likewise commend the Good News of Jesus to those around us.