A Life-changing Experience
A life-changing event touches the heart and brings a startling realization that life will never be the same. I vividly remember being present for the births of my daughters. I stood in awe as the doctor carefully delivered them and as they took their first breath in this world. After the nurses cleaned, measured, took their footprints, and wrapped them snugly in their blankets, they were handed to me. I was now a father and, as I stared with wonder at each of them, I began to realize that my life would never be the same.
Imagine the events of Pentecost as so much is happening, so much is changing, and so fast. Those who obeyed Peter’s instructions were immediately recognized with both distinction and connection. “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe” (Acts 2:42-43). They were beginning to realize that their lives and families would never be the same.
This is the kind of environment the church must produce today. When we read of people’s conversions in the book of Acts we see rejoicing, sharing, giving and serving. When the Bible is read today, and our love and appreciation for Jesus grows, there must still be the same sense of awe and joy.
The people who were gathered to hear Peter’s explanation of the current events began to see things differently. The man named Jesus was now recognized as Messiah of prophecy. Their perspective was changing; they were looking at things from a different vantage point. They were now seeing what God was doing around them, in them, and through them. Here are four perspectives, evident in the burgeoning church, that will produce the life-change God desires:
See yourself with a new identity
Our identity is based on what and who we are in Christ: a “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17). It realizes the blessings of the better promises in the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34; Heb. 8:6). It is based on our salvation in Christ and being added to the body of Christ, the church (Acts 2:40, 47; Eph. 1:22-23).
See yourself with a new loyalty
We exchange our past for a faith-filled future intent on conforming to the image of Jesus (Rom. 8:29). Their new devotion presents a striking contrast to previously held convictions. The changes were both monumental and meaningful; observing the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week in place of the Sabbath on the seventh day; favoring fellowship with the saints rather than fellowship with the Jews; and learning from the apostles instead of from the Scribes and Pharisees.
It is important to notice that nowhere in the Bible is the church “devoted to implementing programs and to events, to the making of traditions and to committees.” They are not bogged down in meetings and movements. Too often the church today is devoted to these distractions to real, meaningful, fruitful ministry. Ministry is complicated when modern ingenuity and human wisdom replaces the natural, organic, and personal connections seen in the early church. Perhaps we think we can do things better than our brethren in the first century. After all, we have greater resources and advanced technology. Is it possible for people in our complex society to be converted and matured the same way we see in the Bible? The way the apostles, and the church, were doing ministry was actually turning the world upside down (Acts 17:6). Should we expect the same results today?
See yourself with new values
We count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ (Phi. 3:7-14). This new loyalty to what God was revealing through the apostles moved the new Christians from tradition to truth (Rom. 2:20), from confusion to clarity (Acts 2:12-13, 36-37), and from a syncretism to full sufficiency in Christ (Col. 1:18). The things that we used to consider important are exchanged for things much more important. Activities and aspirations that provide earthly satisfaction and pleasure are replaced by those that provide eternal reward.
See yourself with new priorities
Pleasing God by living worthy of His gospel is my only objective (Phi. 1:27; Eph. 4:1). Priorities always align with our values. A wise man once told me that “we value what we do and we do what we value.” If you want to know what is really important to someone (or yourself), where their priorities lie, observe where they spend their time and money. This requires that we consider all that God has done for us in Christ and continually seek to worship, serve, and live in a way that demonstrates an ever deepening gratitude for the gospel.
The church’s environment is life-changing when we begin to see ourselves with a new identity, producing a new loyalty which, in turn, redefines our values, realigns our priorities, and alters our lives in a tangible way. Like becoming a parent, the thrill of becoming a Christian motivates us to be transformed in our perspective of what God is making us to be.