“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42)
Barry has been speaking about the life-shaking changes that happened in and to the new Christians at Pentecost when they heard and believed the news that Jesus had come from God to save human beings from the death and destruction of this world. He explained how their entire lives were utterly revolutionized by the news. Once they understood the implications and comprehended the rewards of this new life, they couldn’t just go on living in the same way they had always lived. Before they had believed the good news, they were just typical Jews, living like all the other Jews in their world. But after they understood this news from God, everything changed! They didn’t just add a few new religious activities to the same lifestyle. They didn’t just decide to start going to church on Sunday morning instead of Saturday nights. Their hearts and minds were so affected by the gladsome news of Jesus’ love, and of His promise of abundant life, that they made a sweeping moral inventory of their lives and threw out all the former stuff that was so superficial and empty, but taking up so much space. As Barry said so well, these new activities of which Acts 2:42 speaks weren’t added to their (already busy) lives, but they became their lives! Whatever got in the way of these things—of the study of the apostles’ teaching, the fellowship of believers, the communion of the saints, and the prayers–was discarded. It couldn’t be any other way! We are talking about a new love affair here! That word “devoted” speaks of passion, of a driving fervor, of a new heart-felt love. That is how the new believers pursued the love of God once they had been introduced to it in the life of Jesus.
But how do we become devoted, we might ask? Isn’t devotion about the heart (yes—it certainly is!), and we don’t have any control over our hearts, do we? Whatever the heart feels, that’s just what the heart feels and we are helpless to do anything about that, right? At least that’s what modern psychology tells us. When we “fall in love” (and when we “fall out of love”) that’s our heart doing its own thing, and we can’t do anything about it, can we?! Our hearts decide what they will fall in love with, and we just have to follow along—isn’t that how it feels? But is any of that actually true or have modern psychological fads led us astray? What does God say about our hearts, our feelings? We might suspect He knows, since He created us! Does God say that we are a victim of whatever our hearts feel and cannot hope to resist? Or was the heart made to serve God and us?
Jesus talked much about the heart. And what He said is that each one of us has both the ability and the responsibility to take control of our heart, care for it and nurture it, and direct it to right living. The heart is no different in this way than the mind God gave us (which we also have a responsibility to take control of, care for, and nurture) and our bodies (ditto here!). We can neglect our duty to supervise our hearts, our minds, our bodies—we can indulge their every passion and let them run wild until they feel like they’re out of control. But that was never the way God intended for us to live. Here’s the good news: God made our entire beings–our hearts, minds, and bodies–to love and be loved by Him! These aren’t impossible tasks or unpleasant tasks—it is literally what we were created to do and where we find life’s greatest pleasure. Here is where we find the greatest possible satisfaction in life. And here’s more great news: the Spirit of God is poured out on His people to captivate their hearts and souls, and draw them deeper into God’s love.
So, yes, we can be devoted to “God things”, like the early disciples. God has done the first thing already for us, if we have believed in Jesus as Lord and Savior. He has given us His Spirit. Then our work begins. It will take a conscientious and intentional work on our part. Like the early disciples we will need to make a searching moral inventory of our own lives, and get rid of the “junk” that is taking up so much space and time and energy.
Jesus said that the way we were created we can only love one thing supremely. It will be up to us to decide what that one thing will be. For the early disciples, there was no doubt. They loved God and lived out that love by immersing themselves in His Word in order to know Him better, giving themselves continually to the company of one another, eating together and celebrating Jesus together, and praying together. They devoted themselves to the things of God. The question is always: what will we devote ourselves to?
Submitted by Mike Johnson