Acts 2:42-47

Those who had been baptized 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.

Sometimes, I wonder whether we really get it these days. We are so far removed from the folks we read about in Acts this morning that we really have to adjust our thinking to understand what it meant in the first 250 years to call yourself a Christian. It is difficult for us to get our heads around what the Roman world thought of Christians because there are few surviving accounts written by those on the outside looking in. Lucian of Samosata, a Roman writer from the 2nd century, gives us a little glimpse of how strange Christians appeared to the status quo. Christians he said display an absurd generosity and they have a sacrificial concern for other people they don’t even know.[1] Later on he writes, “The poor wretches have convinced themselves that they are going to be immortal, they despise death, and even willingly give themselves into custody.”[2] Tacitus, also writing in the 2nd century records how Nero blamed Christians for the great fire in Rome. He writes, “Nero fastened the guilt and afflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace.”[3]

Listen to that language – absurd, poor wretches, abominations, a hated class. To the Romans, if you were a follower of Christ you were at best someone to be pitied. At worst you were someone considered worthy of torture and death. But those believers we read about this morning in Acts didn’t care what the world thought of them. They had been touched, moved, set on fire by the power of the empty tomb. How they lived following Jesus’ death is to me the best proof of the resurrection. They lived with such joy, such purpose and passion. They were willing to love so openly, with that absurd generosity, to risk their very lives just to proclaim the truth – that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that everyone who has faith in him should not perish but have eternal life. That sort of passion, that sort of Spirit, should be ours too, yours and mine. If it was, the world might well call us crazy. But I could wish nothing more for any of us than that you and I could be crazy Christians – crazy with love, crazy with hope, crazy with joy. Because the tomb is empty, we have nothing to fear and everything to live for. Amen.


[1] Charles C. Williamson, Acts, Westminster John Knox Press, p. 25.
[2] Luke T. Johnson, The Writings of the New Testament, Fortress Press, p. 91.
[3] Ibid., p. 89.

O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people: Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(Book of Common Prayer)