The Act of CHANGE (Acts 2)

There are many jokes about change because as much as we like to think others need to change, most of us are much more resistant to the idea of change when it involves us!  Last week we looked at the Act of WAIT which prepared the disciples, and should prepare us, for the CHANGE that we see in Acts chapter two.

It is important to note an often overlooked detail of the events in Acts 2 — the crowd that the apostles are in the midst of is described as God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven!  Yes, even those who believe in God, who fear God, need to hear the message of God from time to time in ways that call them to change!

Acts chapter two has all kinds of lessons in it for us as individuals and for us as the church — the body of Christ.  Here are six components that I see which contributed to, or resulted from, the change that takes place in many lives from that day until now.

  • Correction:  Sometimes we need to gently and accurately correct the perception of others before we have any hope of them listening to the truth.  Other times we must have our perception corrected before we can begin to make necessary changes.  In Acts 2, the perception of some of the crowd was that the apostles were drunk.  Instead of being offended, Peter steps up and addresses the crowd based on their view of authority!  Remember, this crowd was God-fearing Jews.  Peter met them where they were and corrected their perception with scripture that they would have held as authoritative.  The act of Correction should bring us, or those listening to us, to a point of recognized authority.
  • Hearing:  Once we reach a point of recognized authority, the next step is hearing what that authority has to say.  How often do we resist change because we are not willing to hear what is being said?  This is a version of the old, “I know what the Bible says, but . . .”.  We may know what God says in his Word, but if we’re not doing it then we’re not really hearing what he has to say!  This hearing is a two-way street — we must take the time to really hear those we are sharing the gospel of Jesus with just as much as they need to hear the message.  The act of Hearing ought to connect us with our listener and our listener with God.
  • Accepting:  The intended result of the correction and hearing is the accepting of the message of change — in the case of Acts 2, the message of salvation.  James tells us that we ought to not simply be hearers of God’s Word, we ought to do what it says!  Accepting a message that calls us to change means that we will change.  We don’t know the exact size of the crowd that had gathered in Jerusalem but we do know that about three thousand of them accepted the message and were baptized that day!  Many others were corrected and may have even heard, but the real change didn’t take place until the message was accepted.  The act of accepting call us to respond to the message of truth with the appropriate action of change.
  • Noticing:  When real change takes place, we begin to notice things from a different point of view.  We may claim to be changed, but how often do we not notice the people around us?  While the message and response of salvation gets most of our attention in chapter two, the story doesn’t stop there.  As a result of the change in their life, people begin noticing that others are in genuine need and hurting.  While the needs of Christians increase greatly soon after this due to persecution, at this point the needs that exist are the same needs that existed unnoticed the day before.  When we accept the act of change in our life, we ought to notice that people really are hurting and genuine needs really do exist.  The act of noticing takes our eyes off of ourself and causes us to look toward the interests of others.
  • Giving:  Just as accepting ought to be the expected outcome of correction and hearing, giving should be the natural response to noticing.  John warns us that if we notice a brother or sister in need and have no pity on them, how can the love of God truly be in us?  The first act of giving is the giving of ourself, our everything, to God.  It is this change in our life that helps us to give to the needs we notice.  We realize we are stewards, managers of God’s possessions, and we give out of his abundance not out of our means.  These early believers in Acts 2 not only noticed the needs of other believers, they gave freely to any who had need.  The act of giving acknowledges that all the stuff in our life belongs to God and it is His to use in meeting the needs of everyone.
  • Eternity:  The act of change that makes a real difference is the one that impacts where a person spends eternity.  This is why the other components of CHANGE are so important.  Change for the sake of change isn’t all that significant.  Sometime it can be a good thing to break us out of our comfort zone and other times it can be so distracting and upsetting that it is harmful.  The change that matters is change that aligns us more fully with the will and word of God — change that molds us more fully into the image of Christ.  The act of eternity causes us to see the hardships of this life as momentary troubles that are preparing us for the eternal reward that is waiting for all who call upon the name of the Lord and are saved.

So, how many parts of this act of CHANGE is God calling you to work on?  I pray that we see the act of Correction, Hearing, Accepting, Noticing, Giving, and Eternity from God’s perspective and we eagerly accept his act of change in our life.