It’s been almost a decade since I made All Nations Church my home. During that time, I’ve thrown myself into the life of the church in many ways and had some of the best experiences of my life because of this group of people. One thing me and my wife have said to each other on several occasions is how blessed we feel to be in a church family with such wonderful people like we are – they really are some of the best in the world! I look back over these past years and thank God for his kindness in placing me and keeping me here for the time He has.
In one of our recent Sunday gatherings a friend of mine, Dave, was sharing as part of our Adventures in Acts series. He said that “if the Apostle Paul or the other characters in the book of Acts were to join us here at All Nations Church, they would feel right at home. They would totally get what is going on because the same Holy Spirit working through them is now working through us.” A powerful statement, and one which, in honesty, I had to step back and think to myself, “would they really?” Would the great Apostle Paul, who wrote large swathes of the New Testament, feel like He belonged here? Or would Lydia, Cornelius, and Timothy, those whose stories were recorded in the New Testament, feel like we are doing what they did, and seeing the Spirit move as they did? I mean, after all, they saw amazing miracles – blind eyes being opened, deaf ears hearing and the lame walking. Although I can say I am blessed to see miracles and healings first-hand, I never stopped to think about whether our present lives echoed the lives of the first believers. Even in the light of the miraculous, we still seem so normal, and they lived such epic, adventurous lives on the cutting edge the Kingdom. How could All Nations Church here in Cardiff feel like home for people like that? Then one morning during the week, whilst I was reading through the book of Acts, I came across a beautiful little Scripture in Acts 4.
All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had. Acts 4:32
They shared everything they had. Amid all the great acts we read about, the miracles, signs and wonders, this verse pointed me to a wonderful truth: in the early church there were many acts happening that might have seemed insignificant, easy to do or even mundane, but they are mentioned in the Scriptures, nonetheless – The generosity within the church was significant enough to mention in the Bible. In fact, I would go as far as to say that it is one of the defining characteristics of the Church. Acts 2:44 tells us that those who believed were together and had all things in common. In John 13:34-35 Jesus says that “just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Love toward each other, expressed by selfless giving and serving, is the way of the Church. It is the way the world will look on and say, “wow, we see Jesus in them.”
When I read Acts 4, I realised that I’ve experienced this! I’ve borrowed lawnmowers from friends when I’ve not had my own to cut the grass with. We’ve had people lend us slow cookers when we’ve been hosting big numbers of people and the food wouldn’t fit in ours alone. A week’s worth of shopping has been bought for me when I was tight on money. Bags of coffee have been delivered to my door during the pandemic by people who know how much joy good coffee brings me. The list goes on, and I’m sure many of you could sit down and write great big lists of your own – in fact why don’t you take time to write about the small acts of God’s people that you’ve been on the receiving end of.
Thinking about it now, I agree with my friend Dave. Those we read about in the book of Acts would feel right at home here with us! Why? Because the same Holy Spirit that defined them as the Church of Jesus Christ defines us. His signature can be found on every story, on every miracle, every healing, and every answered prayer in All Nations Church. It can be found on the lawnmowers and bags of coffee, on the hampers of food and the lifts to the airport. These aren’t simply nice things done by nice people, these are works of God led and empowered by the Spirit of God and done by the people of God! After all, what else other than the life of Christ would consistently motivate people to give up their own comfort, even their own lives, in favour of others? They might seem ordinary but if you look closely enough, they look like the Kingdom. They look like the Kingdom because they are the Kingdom. God is not only interested in the blind eyes being opened, but He also cares about the seemingly insignificant needs or requirements of our everyday too.
Now it’s not that we reduce our experience of the Holy Spirit to easily achievable possibilities and parade it as the power of God. Rather, I want to suggest that in God there is no difference between what we label as grandiose and as simple. Both are works of the Holy Spirit and are being used by Him to fulfil His grand objective of the restoration of all things – one can just seem easier to notice than the other. But if when I need a lawnmower, I have a brother and sister in Christ freely offer me theirs, that is cause for thanking God for His provision, and His provision it is.
So be encouraged, God’s Church is thriving. Not that we have made it, by any means, but I have no doubt we are certainly on our way, and we are experiencing the life of God’s Spirit lived through us daily. Never stop allowing God’s Spirit to prompt you and empower you to do His works, no matter how seemingly small or how grand they may be. Every one of them has a significant part to play in His purposes and none should be underestimated. Church, let us be just that, the Church, every day and in every way!