The miracle of diversity…

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Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” 38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.” 40 And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. 44 All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45 they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 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, 47 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. 

This is the record of the first Christian converts. v.43 says they observed “many wonders and signs” in their midst. I’ve generally understood this to mean that miraculous healings and casting out demons were happening and that’s probably true. But in discussing this passage with a colleague, it was pointed out that the “wonders and signs” weren’t necessarily of the supernatural variety. Look what’s described in v.44-45 as an example.

“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.”

One thing we know is that the early church was comprised of diverse people. There were Jews and Greeks and other Gentiles. Men and women. Wealthy people, servants, and slaves. It was unheard in ancient Israel that such different kinds of peoples would actually live together AND share their possessions so no one was in need. That was indeed miraculous, but in my opinion, no more so than it would be today.

I live in suburban Dallas and while it is increasingly ethnically diverse, it is NOT an economically diverse place. In that sense it’s like most other large American cities. We tend to self-segregate. The church is mostly like that as well. Churches tend not to be particularly diverse in any sense of that word.

But what this passage in Acts shows us is that it’s possible. The Spirit of God present in Christian community has a way of taking down the dividing walls and making diverse peoples one. Lord, that we might see this more and more in the church. A miracle indeed. Amen.

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