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A WONDERFUL HARMONY
"Everyone around was in awe -- all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person's need was met.
"They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added daily those who were saved." Acts 2:43-47 (The Message).
Sounds idyllic, doesn't it! Everything happening in perfect harmony -- no needs, no discord, no conflict with their neighbours, even the outsiders approving what was happening! Peace, joy, worship, praise, eating together, day after day after day! Sounds like heaven!
Actually, it was a bit of heaven that had touched earth for a while. God intended it that way as a foretaste of the life to come. The kingdom of God was ruling in that little corner of the globe as the people who believed in Jesus were living out their kingdom lives in the middle of an ocean of selfishness, greed and ungodliness. Even the outsiders liked what they saw.
Unfortunately it did not last. The old nature in them saw to that. A few chapters later the apostles were in trouble with the authorities, a couple of hypocrites tried to buy the church's approval and were nailed by the Holy Spirit and there was discontent in the ranks over racist practices.
But that's how real life is. There is nothing idyllic in the Christian life this side of the grave. We have to live it out in the midst of a world system driven by greed, people who hate, fight and destroy, hypocrites who pretend to be who they are not, people who always want to be the centre of attention, others who are never satisfied, or divisive, and those who are just plain infantile.
That's the beauty and glory of God's kingdom. It flourishes in people who truly love Jesus and are submitted to Him regardless of their environment, in the midst of greed, selfishness, hypocrisy, discontent and divisiveness. The rest of the book of Acts bears witness to that.
There will always be those who are not real; those who are in it for what they can get out of it; those who use it to further their own ends, those who exploit it for fame or fortune; those who hide among its people but keep living their old sinful lives and those who go with the flow but never participate in displaying God's splendour and bringing "up there down here."
In spite of all that, what happened in the beginning keeps on happening in pockets all over the world as a testimony to God's intention and power to restore His creation to its original purpose. There is an expression in Hebrew that says it all -- tekkun olam -- God is fixing everything that was broken, to the horizon.
As long as we live in the present scheme of things, God is at work, through His Holy Spirit restoring everything to its perfection. That does not mean that everyone will be saved but it does mean that He will consign to the rubbish heap everyone who chooses not to be a part of His rule on earth so that His creation will once again willingly and perfectly love and submit to Him.
It happened in embryo when the church was born and it will be completed and perfected when Jesus returns to establish His kingdom in earth forever -- "olam", to the horizon.
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