After graduating college, I was fortunate enough to travel through out the mid-west. During this time, I visited a couple of mega churches that still exist today. I spent time at Parkside Church in Cleveland pastored by Alistair Begg, the voice of the Truth for Life radio ministry. I attended Community Church on Wednesday nights, listening to John Ortberg at Willow Creek Community Church west of Chicago. While participating in a youth ministry trade school called Tentmakers, I visited the Church of the Open Door just outside the Twin Cities in Minnesota. As I reflect upon these three places of worship, my time there reminds me of the passage below.
So the church throughout Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace [without persecution], being built up [in wisdom, virtue, and faith]; and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort and encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it continued to grow [in numbers], Acts 9:31.
According to Luke, following Saul’s conversation, the first century church enjoyed a period of peace without persecution. Churches in Judea, Galilee and Samaria shared three common traits: wisdom, virtue and faith. Like any spiritual awakening, the presence of the Holy Spirit comes forth in unique ways. Luke highlights two aspects of this spiritual growth as believers walked in the fear of the Lord and in the encouragement of the Holy Spirit. As wisdom, virtue and faith continued to be built up, people entered into personal relationships with Jesus daily, baptized and becoming active members of these church communities.
But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature together with its passions and appetites. 25 If we [claim to] live by the [Holy] Spirit, we must also walk by the Spirit [with personal integrity, godly character, and moral courage—our conduct empowered by the Holy Spirit]. 26 We must not become conceited, challenging or provoking one another, envying one another, Galatians 5:22-26.
In the passage above, the apostle Paul provide a blue print for modern believers to follow. Wisdom is the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment. Virtue involves adopting behavior which results in high moral standards. Meanwhile, faith is complete trust or confidence in God. When you join these three qualities together, keeping in step with the Holy Spirit is achievable. As a disclaimer for perfectionist who read this, no one will be able to hear, listen and obey God’s Spirit every time. Yet, the more you keep in step with God, the easiest it will become to do so in the future. Wherever you may be in your faith journey, emulating the first century church will place you one step closer to keeping in step with the Holy Spirit.
by Jay Mankus