Kingdom joy was an infectious trait in the first church. The message of the cross brought transforming power, but the irresistible qualities of its adherents set the stage for its proclamation. Luke describes this dynamic when he writes, “All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:44-47)
The euphoria experienced by the Jerusalem church was not the product of clever marketing techniques. I am not suggesting there is anything inherently wrong with strategic efforts to share the story of Jesus, and certainly God had a method in mind when He birthed His church on the Day of Pentecost. In fact, Peter’s delivery of the first gospel sermon might be the best orchestrated event in church history. Yet, people who heard weren’t nearly as impressed by a plan as they were a personality. They witnessed the reflection of Jesus in His followers, and since many who heard Peter’s sermon had undoubtedly also met the Lord, there was joy in knowing His Spirit was alive in His followers.
Nothing has changed, really. People who need Jesus are still drawn to those who know Him, and are filled with His presence. Whether or not they embrace the cross, they are pleased, and perhaps even surprised to find someone who truly reminds them of the Jesus they imagine. I use the word “imagine” because a non-believer’s understanding of the Jesus of the Bible might be inaccurate. But he knows joy when he sees it.