And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.Acts 2:42
Fierce devotion to spiritual realities
One of the results of Pentecost was a fierce devotion to spiritual realities. I say “fierce” because it was more than a little dangerous to embrace the Christian message. “Spiritual” because the elements of Acts 2:42 were either spiritual or contained spiritual elements: 1) prayer is spiritual; 2) breaking of the bread or the Lord’s Supper is spiritual: the apostles’ teaching was spiritual; and 4) even fellowship or koinonia (Greek) had a strong spiritual bond as its basis.
Some of these Acts 2 elements deserve a little explanation. The apostles’ teaching was not just spiritual, but it had an overall spiritual basis. Even when dealing with everyday matters and relationships, the teaching would be based on the new life in Christ and his eternal perspective. The Lord’s Supper, the liturgy, the ceremony would have human expression; but it is founded on the spiritual reality of the life of Christ and how that has spiritual and eternal consequences. Christian fellowship (Greek koinonia) certainly has human expression but is based on the spiritual reality of a bond so powerful that we are expected to experience it as a family or as brothers and sisters. When we think of Christian “fellowship” we are likely to picture a group of well-dressed, polite folks having coffee and doughnuts in the church hall. But “koinonia” is much more than that. I once heard the great Christian teacher Bob Mumford give a six part series of talks explaining the word “koinonia”. At the end he seemed to believe that he had not quite succeeded…that it needed to be experienced “spirit to spirit” to be truly understood.
The Human Response to Acts 2:42
Different people prefer or respond to different things. In the Acts 2 list, some of us would be moved by the dedication to prayers; some to teaching; some men to the ceremonial or the Lord’s Supper; and some more attracted by the koinonia. In the Old Testament times there were four schools of influence; the Levitical, the Yahwist, the Elohist, and the Deuteronomic (the ceremonial, the poetic, the power-centered, and the law-centered). It’s believed to be the reason that we have two versions of creation (Gen. 1 and Gen. 2:4). We benefit most when we move beyond our natural preferences and embrace all of the spiritual realities listed in Acts 2:42.
Groups (churches) more dedicated to the Lord’s Supper might benefit by having more devotion to koinonia (Christian bonding relationship). Groups (churches) with strong Christian relationship might benefit by more, strong apostolic teaching; and so on.
Devoted to Spiritual Realities
“I Q”, or intelligence quotient is a phrase credited to William Stein (1912), a German psychologist. It uses standardized tests to measure several abilities of the mind such as memory, understanding, attention, etc.
EQ or EI or EQI is a later development (1964 paper, Michael Beldoch) intended to measure emotional “health”, the ability to have a balanced emotional response to circumstances, conflicts, and relational challenges. It is an important characteristic for employers attempting to hire people who will fit into their existing teams. Emotional and social functioning are important elements in the workforce and in the leadership of these teams.
For our purposes, let’s create a new yardstick: SQ, Spiritual Quotient…the awareness and engagement of spiritual realities. Acts 2:42 says that they were devoted to certain spiritual realities… their SQ was off the charts. IQ and EQ have been important for as much as 100 years. Developing and fostering and maintaining a high SQ could have eternal consequences.
Spiritual Awareness of Conditions and Appropriate Responses
Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.1 Thessalonians 5: 16
We all begin life with a “starter kit”: a set of gifts, abilities and a natural awareness of conditions and solutions or responses. A baby who is highly aware and engaging can capture the attention of most adults.
Some types of awareness normally begin on the low side, but can be fostered and developed to higher levels. Spiritual awareness (SQ) is one such example.
Empathy is one type of awareness that can be grown and can even be grown to an unhealthy, self-destructive level. Spiritual awareness can also be developed to and unhealthy “super-spiritual” level, and the danger of deception is real.
Yet there is, for the well-developed disciple, a healthy balance of natural and spiritual awareness that can serve a life that can bear natural and spiritual fruit.
Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.Romans 12:2
Community life has a dedication to spiritual awareness and one of the roles of retreats, gatherings, small groups, prayer time, scripture reading, and cluster life (intentional neighborhoods of Christian households) is to refurbish, renew, and refocus our spiritual awareness. I have friends who “wake me up” just by being in my life (holy friendships). Our denominational life and practices awaken and grow our spiritual awareness.
A disciple who isolates from Spirit-filled people and events loses the catalyst in the relationship and soon loses SQ. Backsliders go from cool to cold.
Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.Ephesians 4: 22-24
This happens to many of our children who go off to school or move away from family and community. This loss of awareness can be due to courtship, friendships, college disconnect, excessive career focus, or the busyness of getting established.
Bearing fruit is connected to spiritual awareness: having the name of Jesus on the tip of our tongues, active in our hearts.
Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord.Romans 12:11
Decisions and SQ
We need to have enough spiritual awareness (SQ) to make our daily life decisions based on our “kingdom now” calling. In my daily prayer time when I pray the section of the Lord’s Prayer that honors the names of God (“hallowed be thy name”) there is one Hebrew title that translates, “the Lord is my sanctifier”. Under that title, I pray that our lives would be set apart (holy, sanctified) for the Lord. Then, our hearts, our minds, our jobs, our postures, attitudes, etc. Finally, I pray here that our decisions would be set apart for God, and thereby be holy, sanctified. Especially the key ones: where we dig our foxhole: where we are going to live; if and whom we marry; where we work; where we’ll live out our calling. We should make these kinds of decisions corporately, not individualistically…getting help and pastoral care. If our lifetime is a canvas, our decisions should paint a portrait of a life lived for Christ.
Whether we are singles or parents, the children in our body are our “talents”. We need to do all that we can to get them to (multiply) bear fruit. We and they can become lazy in attendance or daily prayer.
But when Christ offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.Hebrews 10:12
And finally, this spiritual awareness (SQ) calls us and reminds us to live as the new creations that we are!
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17.
This article by © Bob Tedesco is excerpted from his book, Choosing Discipleship: Embracing the Call in a Modern Culture, Chapter 15, published by Credo House Books, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA. Used with permission.
Top image of a Christian community praising the Lord together, from Bigstock.com, © by Mike Kiev, stock photo ID: 13856114
Bob Tedesco is the founder of the People of God, a Sword of the Spirit community in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA where he served as Senior Coordinator for 26 years. He has been involved in lay ministry for over forty-five years, and has served as Regional President of the North American region in the Sword of the Spirit.