Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2016
The Great Controversy and the Early Church
The Great Controversy and the Early Church [February 27, 2016]
Texts: Acts 1:6-8, 2:5-12, Genesis 11:1-9, Acts 4:1-30, 7:54, 1:12-29.
Homelessness is an issue that many communities deal with. Some community members are concerned for the homeless, while others are interested in finding ways to have them move on to other locations. At times reality forces us to change our opinions.
In June of last year, Debbie and Norbert Rossi were crossing a street in downtown Walla Walla, Washington with their daughter, Lee. Looking forward to an enjoyable meal out, they chatted. Then, without warning, a car hit Debbie. As she lay in the street, her husband asked bystanders something to put under his wife, to protect her severely injured body from the blistering pavement. No one budged.
But then a man familiar to those who frequent downtown, took his shirt off, folded it, and gave it to Norbert. The man was familiar not because of his prestigious career, nor was he familiar because of his philanthropy. Neither was he familiar because of his community involvement. Instead, he was recognized as one of the homeless that live on the streets of the city. 
As communities large and small discuss issues and make plans to help the homeless, preconceived ideas play a part. That day, a homeless man gave his shirt to help an injured woman. Those bystanders had to rethink their preconceived ideas.
In our lesson this week we are reminded that the preconceived opinions of Jesus’ followers were a barrier to spreading the message of the Gospel. In the story of Pentecost, we see these barriers begin to break down. Apostles, who were not sure what to think, were told to just wait. God’s timing was perfect. Jerusalem was filled with people from far and wide. These fisherman who had chosen to follow Jesus, were about to form some new opinions of themselves as well as of those around them. The people of Jerusalem were about to form some new ideas for themselves too, as they heard fisherman speaking boldly in languages that didn’t fit their persona.
Given opportunities to speak about the risen Jesus, they made an impact on the world. Given a dream that left no room for preconceived ideas and prejudice, Peter became a spokesperson to those he might have otherwise avoided. Given the death of Stephen, Saul was about to change his ideas and become an apostle as well. This week we study about these transformations that took place as ordinary people allowed themselves to be changed by a loving and powerful God. Ordinary people did extraordinary things when they allowed God to change their preconceived ideas.
1. “Reassembling a Life,” by Sheila Hagar. Walla Walla Union Bulletin, Walla Walla Valley Weekly, February 16, 2016