Pentecost: A New Community

Artist Rebecca Brogan’s Pentecost: true spiritual unity and fellowship in the Holy Spirit

Acts 2:41-47 NRSV
So those who welcomed [Peter’s message on Pentecost] were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

Pentecost wasn’t over when it was over. The people did not scatter after church at noonday. It was not back to the same old thing. They became a new people, a new family, a committed band of new disciples.
– Theodore F. Schneider, The Overlooked Miracle

What was important, even essential to the early church born at Pentecost?

  • Baptism
  • The apostles’ teaching (God’s Holy Word, the Bible)
  • Fellowship (living with one another in intentional community, as one wise person said, “There are no solitary Christians.”)
  • Breaking of bread (Holy Communion, Eucharist)
  • Prayer
  • Wonders and signs (acts of risk taking mission and service in Jesus’ Name, accomplishing far more than human effort could explain)
  • All things in common (extravagant generosity in sharing and meeting needs)
  • Time together in the temple (worship)
  • Broke bread at home (more fellowship)

The fruit of following Jesus in this manner was glad and generous hearts, God’s praise, the goodwill of the community and the surrounding community, and the growth of God’s church through people coming to saving faith in Jesus Christ. We need look no further for a model to follow in our present age. – Lisa Degrenia <><

The gospel is absurd and the life of Jesus is meaningless unless we believe that He lived, died, and rose again with but one purpose in mind: to make brand-new creation. Not to make people with better morals but to create a community of prophets and professional lovers, men and women who would surrender to the mystery of the fire of the Spirit that burns within, who would live in ever greater fidelity to the omnipresent Word of God, who would enter into the center of it all, the very heart and mystery of Christ, into the center of the flame that consumes, purifies, and sets everything aglow with peace, joy, boldness, and extravagant, furious love. This, my friend, is what it really means to be a Christian. ― Brennan Manning

You can survive on your own
You can grow strong on your own
You can prevail on your own
but you cannot become human on your own.
– Frederick Buechner, The Sacred Journey

Community is first of all a quality of the heart. It grows from the spiritual knowledge that we are alive not for ourselves but for one another. Community is the fruit of our capacity to make the interests of others more important than our own (see Philippians 2:4).
Henri Nouwen

Philippians 2:1-4 NRSV
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.

Extended quote from Prodigal Brothers by Steve Garnaas-Holmes (Luke 15:11-32)
The failure of our love—distancing ourselves from God and one another— is at the heart of our sin. In our self-centeredness we break our family bond with God and with others, as if we’re not related. It is not just of our disobedience that we repent, but of our distance, our refusing to get close to God and to others, including those whom we judge.

The good news is that in the end we are unable to break that bond. Despite our attempt to disown God and each other, God stays related to us and keeps us related to each other. The father puts a ring on the younger brother’s finger—a symbol of family. And he corrects the older brother and calls the younger one “this brother of yours.” Despite their failures he invites them both in to the party.

The righteousness that we need is not obedience. It’s a loving relationship—and this is not our own doing; it is the gift of God. In repentance we pray toward both God and neighbor, “I am not on my own. I am yours.”

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Click here for more quotes and scriptures on the theme of community in Christ.

For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this devotional in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

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