A friend was sharing with me recently what brought him to faith. He told of how he wasn’t a Christian growing up. He wasn’t a bad kid by any stretch, but he wasn’t a believer. He knew about God, had been to church multiple times, and had even sat through multiple bible classes. Still, he had no faith. But in high school he spent some time around a group of classmates who were Christians and they were so passionate about their faith that he became intrigued. They didn’t openly talk about God. They weren’t always going around quoting bible verses or singing Christian hymns. But they had a sense of peace about them. They always seemed to be happy, joyful. He could tell that there was something in their lives that allowed them to always stay positive no matter what and he was curious. He wanted that same type of peace and joy. He wanted what they had. They converted him, not because they preached a sermon or had a bible class, but because they lived in such a way that their faith become contagious.
Near the end of Acts 2, Luke describes the first Christian community. It is a community on fire for God. Luke speaks of how they were devoted to the Apostles’ teaching and constantly in prayer. Daily they met in the Temple courts to praise God and in each others homes to break bread. They were sharing all things in common, even selling their possessions and giving the proceeds to all who were in need. It is an ideal picture of a Christian community. The love and unity that was shared among the believers is inspiring. In many ways, it is the picture of a community that most of us would want to be apart of.
After describing this ideal Christian community, Luke tells his readers that the Lord was adding to their number daily those who were being saved. Not only is the early church an ideal community in relationship with each other, they are also evangelistic. People are being saved daily. Three thousand became believers at Pentecost, but it did not end there. The numbers continued to grow as more and more put their faith in Jesus as Lord. And while there was obviously traditional evangelism taking place: preaching sermons, teaching classes, and reasoning with others, it appears that what may have been most effective was the lifestyle the early Christians were living. These early Christians were passionate about their faith. Their faith in God was clearly the most important aspect of their lives. And there was something about the way that they were living that become contagious. Non-Christians saw the joy and peace in their lives and they wanted that. They wanted to be apart of a community that shared life together. They wanted to be apart of a community in which faith mattered. They wanted to belong to something that had meaning.
I wonder what would happen today if Christians lived with such passion? I wonder what would happen if the world saw that for Christians, faith means something? Many Christians today are lamenting the demise of the church. Christianity isn’t growing the way it was sixty or seventy years ago, at least not in the United States. And those who lament the demise of the church are quick to offer reasons why this is happening: ranging from a lack of evangelism to an unwillingness to declare sin wrong. But maybe the reason the church isn’t growing is because Christians aren’t living a faith that matters to the rest of the world. How would life change if our faith become contagious? What would happen if we lived with true joy and peace? What type of impact would the church have in the community if Christians visibly lived out faith for the world to see?
Maybe the best New Year’s resolution we could make is to try to live faith more passionately this year. To live life with joy and peace. To be so in love with God that it is evident in the very way we conduct ourselves. To have our interactions with others be flavored with grace and mercy. And maybe, if we live this way, others will notice and they will be drawn to the source of our joy and peace. And maybe, if we do this, the Lord will add to the number daily those who are being saved.