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Alternative Facts

I’m sure you’re like me and already know everything you need to know. You can expertly dismiss whatever “news” you don’t like as fake news and you have a full grasp of who God is and what it means to be human. But just in case you’re not, I thought maybe we should consider an alternative fact: we don’t know everything and we are better when we learn from others.

The earliest Jesus-followers were devoting themselves to a few things. If they were devoted to just a few key things, maybe we have a lot to learn from them. Not only were they really close to Jesus being on Earth and therefore closest to his actual words but they were also learning an entirely new way of living. His life, death, resurrection and teaching had reshaped their whole reality. 

We, too, are facing an entirely new way of living. Perhaps grounding ourselves in some ancient principles would be a good place to start finding our footing. That’s why this week we’re exploring community through the eyes of the first “church.” 

We find five core activities in the book of Acts to which they devoted themselves. We’re covering them this week each day:

  • Fellowship (yesterday)
  • Teaching & Learning (today)
  • Shared Possessions (Wednesday)
  • Prayer (Thursday)
  • Eating – Symbolically & Communally (Friday)

Today: teaching & learning together. 

The book of Acts says they “devoted themselves to the Apostles teaching.” We don’t know exactly what they were doing but we know the shape of it. They gathered. They listened to leaders teach on the truths of ancient scripture through the lens of Jesus. They talked about the implications of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection for their everyday lives. In short – they learned together.

It is quite possible these days to conduct a form of learning entirely on your own. You can consume a ton of information. But how are you choosing what you consume? How will you process what you hear? What if something sounds off – how will you evaluate it? What if you’re going down a long rabbit hole that leads to a lot of bad stuff – but you don’t know it yet? What if someone else has already been down that hole and could help you avoid it? 

There’s all sorts of reasons why learning in community is crucial. But perhaps the best one is this: it’s more life-giving. To be sure, it can be harder. It’s more annoying at times. But the hearing and digesting of other perspectives creates an energy and beauty that can’t be found alone. The texture and diversity of thought that come in community are far better than thinking alone. 

In community we find the life-giving beauty of hope. Of encouragement. Of commiseration. When we are teaching and learning in community, we find that we are not so alone as we thought. Others are facing the same questions and challenges and fears. When we open up with one another, the beauty of this hope shines forth.

So let us devote ourselves anew to teaching and learning in community. To rooting in ancient truth and discussing it in lively contemporary ways. We may have to be creative about the methods for a while – but we need not reinvent the basics. They are reliably laid out for us already. In “not giving up meeting” we’ll find hope and fuel for our lives, right now.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Joel & Jeff

Joel Searby


Jeff Bethke

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