….have a good reputation of those outside the church.” I Timothy 3:7
For any enterprise, nothing contributes more to its success than a good reputation. Corporations spend billions to enhance their public image and public relations. Some, like Exxon, lost billions because of bad P.R,
How does today’s Church stack up in that department? Do we have the respect and favor of the man on the street? Does he even pay any attention to us? If he did would he be receptive to our message? Does he view us as concerned with people? Does he see our unity or our divisions? Do we come across as loving or judgmental?
For early believers, a good reputation was vital for making an impact on their neighbors. Luke paints a clear picture of the genuine public interest generated by the fire and love of these early believers. Their fervent prayers, unity and integrity resulted in signs and wonders, a stellar reputation and amazing growth. It all happened just as Jesus said it would: “the world will believe.” Here are some key reasons why that church deserved its fine reputation and the powerful results it brought to fulfilling her mission.
Unity. The believers were of one heart and mind. They met together…shared their meals in their homes with glad and humble hearts, praising God, and enjoying the good will of all the people. The words in italics reflect an accurate translation of the Greek adverb, hom-o-thoo-ma-DON. Luke uses it again and again to describe the solidarity of the young church. Jesus understood how vital it was for his church to obey his command to love one another. He knew it would bring the world’s respect and good favor. Right from the start these determined disciples practiced what Jesus preached. Internal conflicts were resolved with compassion. External threats met with prayer and a united front ”All of them, with one mind and heart, persevered in prayer. Acts 1:14.
Rapid growth. Read Luke’s account carefully and you will see a cause and effect regarding their unity, reputation and exponential growth, “The believers continued together in close fellowship and shared their belongings with one another…they had their meals together in their homes, praising God, and enjoying the good will of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their number (Acts 2:44, 46, 47 Good News Translation).
Charity For these early believers charity begins at home, but it doesn’t end there. They understood that Christ’s agape love is demonstrated more by actions than creeds: A wonderful spirit of generosity pervaded the whole fellowship. Money from the sale of donated property was brought to the apostles, who distributed to each according to need. ….not a single person was in need among them. All this wasn’t lost on the public. Scuttlebutt in Jerusalem was these Christians might be a strange bunch, but no doubting they demonstrated love for each other.
To be Continued: Please share your comments.