If I host a Tupperware party, will you come? Howsa bout Pampered Chef? Jewelry maybe? Candles, cosmetics, baskets and more; the list of house-party hoopla grows as fast as marketers’ brains can spin. The finance community has begun to employ similar tactics with their informational lunches and dessert meetings. Financial planners often invite a group of folks to watch a presentation, bribing them to attend by offering yummy deserts or tantalizing gifts. Why? BecauseIf I host a Tupperware party, will you come? Howsa bout Pampered Chef? Jewelry maybe? Candles, cosmetics, baskets and more; the list of house-party hoopla grows as fast as marketers’ brains can spin. The finance community has begun to employ similar tactics with their informational lunches and dessert meetings. Financial planners often invite a group of folks to watch a presentation, bribing them to attend by offering yummy deserts or tantalizing gifts. Why? Because smart sales folks know that people—in general—enjoy being with people they know, people with whom they share a common interest, goal, or need. But do we jump up-and-down with glee when we get an invitation to one of those parties or events? Probably not. We consider all the drudgery of getting there, the pressure-packed moment of inevitable decision, and our limited funds that will undoubtedly lead to disappointment. Right? But we go, and guess what? We actually enjoy ourselves once we’re AT the party/event! Go figure! I must confess, attending Sunday morning worship or a small group through the week is similar in the decision process. I consider the drudgery of getting up on Sunday morning, the smile I’ll have to put on my face and the inevitable conviction that will come through the Holy Spirit’s prompting. But when I go, a sweet surprise almost always awaits…
Acts 2:38-39 – [In the preceding verses, Peter had just told the crowd they crucified the long-awaited Messiah! In sheer panic, they cried, “What are we to do?” and…] “Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.’” (emphasis added)
Please don’t miss the holy irony of this moment! The crowd has been “cut to the heart” with the realization that they’ve killed God’s anointed, and they prepared themselves for God’s judgment Peter. Instead, God—through Peter—offered them an invitation to forgiveness. They must REPENT of their sinfulness and be BAPTIZED in Jesus’ Name to be forgiven. After repenting and being baptized, they must open their hearts to RECEIVE the Holy Spirit. The invitation was addressed to those listening, to their households (for surely they would return home and tell their families about this wonderful gift!), and to everyone else whom God would call. They expected to run a gauntlet, an obstacle course, or a proving ground to win their salvation. Instead, they were invited to take a dip in the waters of forgiveness before they joined the party.
Acts 2:40-41 – “With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’ Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” (emphasis added)
On any party invitation, we’re told what time the party starts, right? I’m sure Peter explained in later teachings that these folks would be saved from eternal destruction, but the immediate promise was salvation from their current corrupt generation. These Jews were discouraged about the world around them: their economy, their government (subordinate to the Romans), and their corrupt religious leaders. Do any of these issues plague our world today? Peter’s words are God’s message to us, assuring His people in every generation that salvation is intended to provide rescue now. We need not wait on eternity to experience God’s salvation. Some believed Peter, and some didn’t—as it is today—but 3,000 new believers is a pretty big party!
Acts 2:42-45 – “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.” (emphasis added)
When those 3,000 people circled “yes” on the salvation RSVP, did they have any idea what they were committing to? Constant teaching from the apostles, new and deep friendships, lotsa good eats! Times of prayer and witnessing miracles. They were constantly together, and they sold whatever they possessed in order to provide for those in need. They were swept away in the all-consuming love of Jesus…and they drank it in like a desert wanderer’s first glass of water. THIS is church, ladies and gentlemen. This is loving one another as Jesus loves us; giving our hearts to study, prayer, fellowship and true charity.
Acts 2:46-47 – “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (emphasis added)
This party was like a progressive dinner—it moved. The believers met both publicly and privately, in the temple courts and in each others’ homes. They met together in Jerusalem homes, but they didn’t fearfully cower behind locked doors. They celebrated! And when they met publicly in the temple courts, they gained the favor of observers; and the observers turned into daily converts. It tells us public meetings are important so the world can see the contagious love of Jesus cultivated in the relationships of small group encounters.
- Lord, I’m so thankful to have been invited to Your salvation shindig! It’s not at all what I imagined. It’s much more fun, much more fulfilling. I know I could enjoy it more—more fellowship, more study, more giving, and more miracles—but that “invitation dread” comes over me and keeps me from getting involved in the party. Work in my heart to go, to do, to just show up. I’ll leave the rest in Your hands, Lord.