Becoming an Acts church today
Acts 3:17-26 "click on scripture to read passage"
Peter's sermon to those that were gathered at the entrance to the temple continues through the 3rd chapter of Acts. One of the issues that I find with written communication versus oral is that body language is eliminated. For instance, a simple phrase "ok, then" sent to my daughter the other day caused confusion due to the fact she wasn't able to tell if I was joking, being sarcastic, or trying to brush her off. Of course, my only intention was a simple "well, then that is something else", with no alterative motives in mind. Yet as I read verse 17, I see the words that Peter has spoken translated and written down for us, and it makes me wonder, what was his intent when he spoke these words, "I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders."
When someone accuses another of acting in ignorance, it could be mounting a defense for their actions, accusing them of acting in intentional poor behavior, or providing a rhetoric of disbelief of their poor decisions. In this case, we can reference Luke 23:34 for a similar sentence structure, which in turn helps us to see what Peter is really getting at here. In Luke, Jesus says, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" as the soldiers begin to cast lots to divide His clothing at the cross. Here we can tell from the similar usage of language, that Peter is addressing the crowd, not in condemnation, but with empathy towards them. Literally we can read these words of Peter, "you didn't know, neither did your leaders."
Now we can sit in talk out this point in various directions for hours at a time, but for the idea of understanding how a church in 2020 can best become an Acts church, let's narrow down to one specific point. In the following verse, Peter continues, "this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets." Although Peter doesn't excuse the behavior of the misguided Israelites, he does point out that because of their sinful lives Jesus was crucified. Without the willing disobedience of them and you and I in the form of sin, we would not have Jesus crucified. Later on, St. Paul puts it this way in 1 Cor 2:8 "None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory". While their disobedience was wrong, it was still able to be used as part of God's plan to bring about the greatest glory in the world - Jesus.
We live in a time of the church history that exists because of Grace. To often we see things that we disagree with, certainly that we have been taught that is biblically incorrect, and we grow to a hatred of it that consumes us - ultimately stopping us from receiving the grace of Jesus or sharing it with others. Think of it this way. All of our communities have issues, agreed? Would you also agree with me that if more Jesus existed in the communities, that life would improve? The world is currently in a state of unrest that will only be repaired by the love of Christ. So let us show others what the love of Christ looks like, even when we disagree with them so deeply that it hurts. After all, it is where the most extreme and harshest brokenness exists that Christ is best glorified. Look around, instead of judging others for their actions, posts, words, etc, look past all that, and see the place where Jesus wants us all to go. Peace and Love.