amazed or amused...?
This passage records what I like to refer to as the Empowering of the Church. The event took place at the celebration of the Feast of Pentecost and the end result was that 3000 people were added to the church (Acts 2:41).
Verse 7 records that those who witnessed this event were amazed and verse 6 tells us at what they were amazed, "every man heard them speak in their own language" and verses 8-11, elaborate that the content of what they heard was "the wonderful works of God." Verse 12, reiterates, "...and they were all amazed."
While there is no doubt that they were amazed at the method by which they heard, they were also amazed at the message that was preached. That message was expounded upon by Peter in verses 14ff.
The question I thought that begs to be asked is, "What has happened to the amazement at the preaching of the Word of God?" There was a time when old fashioned preaching resulted in the altars being filled with repentant sinners and folks were amazed at the workings of God in their midst.
Whereas the business of the church was the edification of the saints and the evangelization of the lost, it seems to have become a place of show business...what was once a religious experience has become entertainment where performance threatens to take the place of preaching.
Could it bee that this generation has chosen entertainment over exhortation? Have we focused so much on attracting a crowd by use of music as entertainment rather than worship that the Word of God has lost it's amazement? In the early church, crowds were attracted by the power of God's Word being preached, but today in many churches, God's Word is minimized. We 'market' the Gospel message by presenting it in a well-packaged format, carefully crafted so as to please people, persuading them to come. We are careful not to offend and then wonder where the amazement has gone.
I fear that shepherds no longer strive to feed the sheep because they have to spend their energy entertaining the goats. I further fear that the real source of the problem lies not so much in the people in the pew, but in the lack of power in the pulpit. If you use entertainment to get people to come, you have to continue entertaining to get people to stay. Faithful preaching includes reproof and rebuke as well as exhortation (2Tim. 4:2-4), something people with 'itching ears' are loath to hear.
If amusement is to be replace by amazement, we must again hear from God's Word, for then will men say, "What must we do...?" (Acts 2:37). We cannot sing "I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene" of He is still on the outside, knocking to gain entrance (Rev.3:20).
Pick up a hymnal, find MY SAVIOR'S LOVE, written by Charles H. Gabriel, and consider how He could love a "sinner, condemned, unclean." I just might amaze you!
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