When we moved to Shalimar last year, we thought it would be fun to learn to paddle board. We lived so close to the water, it seemed like a fun way to spend time on the weekends. One of the ladies in the church, who also paddle boards, took me out one morning on her board to teach me. I paddled out into the water here at Meigs Park and tried time and time again to stand up on the board. Every time I tried to stand, I'd fall. My support on the shore would try to give me pointers of where to put my feet, but eventually, I couldn't feel my toes any longer, and we had to call it a day.
Have you ever felt like you just couldn't get something, and maybe it just wasn't the activity for you? AJ and I took a leap of faith and bought some used boards. He helped me stand on my board at the shoreline. I found once I could get standing, I was ok. Then, I got to the point where I get started standing from the shore on my own. One day, we went out to the island to paddle, and without even thinking, I went away from the shore and just hopped up on my board. It wasn't even until we had been paddling for a while that I realized I had stood up in open water all on my own. I did it!
I'm not a super athletic person and not someone who is overly strong. I simply believed that this was something that I could do because people encouraged me in that path.
Our story this morning is the same idea. Peter and John have just been released from jail because the Jewish leaders could charge them with anything for healing the lame man. Those same leaders are trying to get them to stop preaching about Jesus, but Peter and John refused to stop honoring what Christ did in their life. When they left the Jewish leaders, the immediately went back to the Christian community and prayed together. They asked God to give them boldness, so they could preach the word and share the Good News of who Jesus was. They wanted other people to know the Kingdom of God.
Do you see that? All the believers prayed. They all wanted boldness to share the Good News. It doesn't say that the believers prayed for Peter and John to preach. It says they all prayed that they would all be bold.
Friends, this is something everyone can do. It's not just for those who are called to the vocation of ministry. When we are in Christ's family and Christ's church, he calls us to share in the work of spreading his kingdom.
The second part of our key this morning is that we each have our part. The passage that was read to us just a moment again, talks about how the Christian Community was united, and how they cared for one another. Everyone in the Kingdom of God and the Church has their own part to play.
When I was learning to paddle board, I had my role, which was to participate in my activity and to not give up. But there was also the role of those around me. They played the role of teacher, encourager, and supporter. When I got frustrated, they reminded me that I can try again. When I felt foolish because I was falling off time and time again, they gave encouraging words or ways for me to improve. Even more importantly, when I finally was able to do what I wanted to do, they celebrated with me.
The early church did the same thing. They united their hearts and minds, and came together to support one another. They ensured that everyone had their needs met. We read earlier in Acts, in chapter 2, that they also shared meals, helping to carry a load of life together. You could say they lived life together.
When we do things with the support of those who care about us in Christian love, we have the strength we need to try new things.
Those who believed in Christ in Acts 2-4 had to stick together. They knew the Jewish leaders didn't like their message of Jesus Christ, so they looked to each other for strength. That's not so different from today. The world doesn't like our message of grace, peace, and love the Christ brings, and the message of transformation that comes with that love.
Read Acts 4:23-31.
Have you ever asked God for boldness?
How did God respond to the early church's prayer? How has he responded when you prayed for boldness?
When was the last time you used the Christian community to pray, in unison, for something that was heavy on your heart?
Read Acts 4:31-35.
When have you seen a group of people be "of one mind" so they could accomplish God's will?
Do you feel our church is "of one mind" now?
How can we stay united in heart and mind?
What ways do you see that you need to increase your care for the poor?