The Church in Acts
The early Church, as described in the book of Acts had a beautiful sense of community and family. They sold possessions for the sake of the poor and sold houses to the point that “there was not a needy person among them”. There was devotion to the Word, to the fellowship and to the work. There was excitement and anticipation for what God had promised to do. I observe these characteristics and it brings longing to my heart for the Church today, as I hope it does with you.
A community is a people who live and share life together.
The world does this well, but what about the Church? By the time you get to Acts chapter 4 the Church has grown to over 5000 people. With that many people having just repented of their old life of sin to believe in the Gospel you would expect an impact on the community around them. 5000 people who suddenly no longer live for the pleasures of the world and who no longer trust in self-righteousness to save them would stand out like a sore thumb in Jerusalem, and they did. They were noticed. But before you see them noticed in a negative way, hated for their faith, you see that they “had favor with all the people.” Does this surprise you that the Church could have favor among “all people”? It shouldn’t. After all, Jesus has called us to be in the world as salt and light, and he did not call us to be so to no avail or with no hope of success. So how did they gain this favor? They did it by living as a community among the others. They did it by living out their new-found faith in Jesus on display, so that all might see and glorify God. We need this sense of community today in our Churches. We need to, with unity and excitement, take what Jesus has placed within us and live together in every-day-life
Along with this sense of community in the Church of Acts, you also notice that they were a family. As a family they met together, prayed together, ate together in their homes, worshiped Jesus together and even suffered together. All of this was done with the inseparable bond of the Holy Spirit within them and a real desire to make Christ known to the world. Like any family though, they were not perfect and they had their difficulties. There were times of struggle and discord, like with Paul, Barnabas and John-Mark. They faced opposition from within and without, but they remained a family; brothers, sisters, spiritual mothers and fathers. The Church’s family bond is like no other. We who were once afar off have been brought near, both to Christ and to each other by the blood of Christ. The wall of separation is, or should be anyway, down. This does not mean that the Church across the globe will agree on everything, but that the local Church, the smaller fellowships of varying sizes will live as a family. If that cannot happen, the mission fails.
Everyone On Board
Is it reasonable to think that every Church in the world should be marked by these same devotions? It’s not only reasonable, but imperative. But in order for this to happen, each member of the body of Christ MUST be on board with it. It cannot be a show for the pastor. It cannot be just 1 or 2 church members who are dragging the rest of the Church like a dead horse behind them, pleading, “Let’s go, Church! Let’s get excited about what God is doing.” We need the urgency that says, “If we don’t do something, then no one will.” The duty to take the message of Christ’s all-of-grace gospel to the world, and to do it with joy and power from on high, has been given to only one people, and that’s the Church; a Church in community; the Church as a family.