There’s one last facet of the churches rhythm we need to see. The rhythm of the church Luke gives us is vibrant, active, energetic, alive and full of joy. As they eat together notice the way Luke describes their life together “with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people.” The church is characterised by joyful worship of God. There’s gratefulness, thankfulness, a deep seated joy and overflowing praise that flows from the peace they experience between them and God and with one another through the gospel.
Don’t misunderstand the peace the gospel brings. It’s not a lack of conflict or struggle. During World War two there was a competition with a prize for the winner to paint a picture that illustrated peace. Lots of quiet peaceful country scene paintings were sent in, but the winner stood out as being unique. It was of a raging waterfall in a storm; blackened clouds, torrential rain, and water crashing everywhere. But out of the centre of the chaotic waterfall stood a branch, and on the branch was a bird in full-throated song. It won first prize.
That is a great picture of the church. What gives the church such joy is not their circumstances it’s living at peace with God and in their relationships with one another. They live life enjoying Jesus rule even in the midst of struggle and persecution as we’ll see in the next few weeks. This peace which the gospel brings leads them to grateful joyful enjoyment of one another and overflowing praise of God.
And do you see the impact of these rhythms on the watching world? The church enjoys the favour of all the people. The world around them watches on and is amazed at this new community, at the joy there is, at their life together, at the wholehearted love and generosity, at the depth of relationship and sharing, at their joy and worship of God Father Son and Spirit. At the transformation knowing Jesus brings to life together. And it attracts others to Jesus because it gives them a glimpse of the kingdom of God, of a world they hunger for. The church is an outpost of God’s kingdom in the here and now. It’s a scale model of what life would be like if the world knew Jesus as their Lord and Messiah and God as their Father and were filled with the Spirit.
How is your joy? We lose our joy when we lose our wonder at who God is and what he’s done for us. We lose our joy when we badmouth one another, or grumble, rather than be amazed at God’s grace to us. We lose our joy when we lose sight of grace and fail to see God’s bigger picture and extend that grace to one another.
How can we tell if we are losing our joy? The things we see in this church will be missing. We will drift away from people, our praise of God will feel forced, we will feel like we’re going through the motions. If that’s you stop. Remind yourself again of the wonder of the gospel. Of the privilege it is to be adopted by God and filled with the Spirit and the glorious purpose he calls us together to show the world.
Do you see the rhythms of the church? Living with Jesus as Lord and Messiah, sharing life together, and joyfully worshipping Jesus. All centred on Jesus and based on what he has won for us on the cross and at the tomb.