Christ in the Community
Again, returning to Acts 4: “With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all” (vs.33). An important aspect of the early Christian community was their passion for serving Jesus Christ. Not only were the early believers one in their unity and generous with their possessions, but they also were vocal about their God. They freely declared that Jesus was Lord and that as Lord He rose from the dead to bring eternal life to all who might call upon His name. The Lord Jesus must take center stage in the local and international Community of believers. If He is not included, the Community will cease to exist in its primary goal of gathering the oppressed around the Healer.
There has been much discussion of the importance of the resurrection of our Lord for the Christian faith. This is not in dispute. I whole-heartedly accept and believe in the literal resurrection of our Lord Jesus from the dead. I endorse the importance of believing in the resurrection. As Donald Guthrie contends, the resurrection was the glue that held the early Believers together (1981:732). The resurrection should also hold us together today and our ministries to those on the periphery. Sure enough, there were others who followed the Messiah around awaiting His political move that would set Israel free from its Roman oppressor, yet it was those that were found still in the Community after His death, looking for the sign of His appearance, that created the divide between the faithful and the doubtful. The belief in the resurrection continues to be a divisive measuring stick today. Just as the resurrection was a standard in the early Community, so it must continue to be proclaimed in the Church of today.
The verbal endorsement of the death and resurrection of our Lord is needed today more than ever. Just as we are called to do good works so we are given the opportunity to share about God’s love with our neighbor. Paul, in asking the question, “And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” (Romans 10:15) implies our responsibility in sharing the Good News verbally with the world. If our ministry stops with our good works we are not truly involved with holistic ministry and we fail to fulfill our calling as the Community. The Community, as seen in Acts, proclaimed Jesus and Him crucified. Much has been said about the importance of evangelism and good works. Romans 5:8 declares authoritatively that Christ died for us because we are guilty of sin. The God of mercy died for us, “while we were still sinners.” The Good News of Jesus is not complete until we have proclaimed the death and resurrection of the Savior.