Have you every paid attention to how much joy the early Christians felt?
Luke says the very first Christians, those at Jerusalem, “were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people . . .” (Acts 2:46-47).
When Philip preached the gospel at Samaria and confirmed it with miraculous signs, “there was much rejoicing in that city” (Acts 8:8).
When the Ethiopian was baptized, “he went on his way rejoicing” (Acts 8:39).
When Barnabas came to Antioch and saw how many had turned to the Lord, “he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord” (Acts 11:23).
Describing the gospel’s effect at Antioch of Pisidia, Luke says, “And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 14:52).
When Paul and Silas were traveling from Antioch of Syria to Jerusalem, “they were passing through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and were bringing great joy to all the brethren” (Acts 15:3).
The Philippian jailer was baptized in the middle of the night. He “rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household” (Acts 16:34).
These people were full of joy—and it showed! They were excited because they had learned the truth that Jesus died for them and then rose from the dead to be their Lord; they no longer had to live in ignorance and sin. They were excited because in Christ their sins were forgiven; they had a fresh start. They were excited because in Christ they now had a new, better life, with access to all spiritual blessings, including the hope of heaven. They were excited because they had become part of God’s family, sharing together with others of like faith, now united with some whom they formerly may have viewed as enemies.
These Christians were by no means problem-free. They still faced life’s daily challenges. Many were poor; some were so poor that others had to help provide their daily needs. Some of them were sick. They still aged, and they and their families still had to deal with death. The fact that these people became Christians brought at least one additional problem: opposition—at times, intense opposition. Even then, they rejoiced. When the Apostles were flogged for preaching Jesus, “they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41).
Do our lives reflect this joy? Can others see it in us? If not, we need to recapture the value of God’s grace in Christ and refresh our perspective.