Big Church (Day 1)

When Jesus told Peter that he was the rock that the Christian Church would be built upon, I have often wondered what exactly Jesus had in mind. What was the purpose Jesus intended his Church to fulfill? What portrait would capture the essence of the perfect Church situation? I am unsure to be totally honest. All the books I have read and the years of study I have done in theology and Christianity have left that image a little fuzzy.

Thankfully, it is not completely unclear what Jesus had in mind. Because of the Bible and extra-biblical sources we have a very good idea of what the Apostles (the actual mentored Disciples of Christ) did as they began to minister to others and set up shop in creating an organization. The first thing to keep in mind is that there was no clear cut mission statement with a vision goal with smaller goals underneath that. There was no nice office letterhead with billboard stylized signs to advertise what events were happening this week. They just did it.

But what was “it” exactly? What did they do that so revolutionized the world and led to the greatest spread of religious fervor to ever exist on this planet?  How did 12 uneducated (and 1 really educated) Jews take the Roman Empire by storm with their faith? The answer is found in today’s passage. We’ll be examining the book of Acts chapter 2. Take some time to read the entire chapter. Cool stuff, huh? We’ll get to that as well. But for now let’s look at this portion:

Acts 2 (NLT):

[42] All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.

[43] A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. [44] And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. [45] They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. [46] They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— [47] all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

 

Notice the progression here: devotion to the apostle’s teaching, to fellowship, to eating meals, and prayer. These are the major components of what the Church should look like. This is the example they set before us, intentional or not. Those who knew Jesus while he lived on Earth thought that these were the most important things to do with their time. It should be with us as well.

They devoted themselves to teaching; for us, this would be reading the Bible and listening to other experts teach on it. They spent time in fellowship with each other; they understood that relationships are where true ministry occurs. They shared meals; this means that they went to each other’s homes and spent quality time together. And they prayed: they spent significant amounts of time praying to God and for each other. These were the main ingredients of the first century church.

What was the end result? Because they did these five things and set them apart as most valuable God was able to do incredible things in, among, and through them. Miracles happened. People were healed. The dead came back to life. Not just that, they considered their things not their own. They were tools to be used not toys to be horded. They were willing to  sell them and use the money to help others; because they valued the person rather than the object.

They also placed high value on meeting together for worship; they met each day in the temple as well as homes. They praised God and shared their meals with each other. This did two incredible things: it allowed the rich to share with the needs and it built a sense of community where equality brought about ministry. In their culture (as with ours today) they were separated by class: rich & poor, Greek & Jew, Roman Citizen and those who were not, etc. By sharing meals and eating in each other’s homes they brought a level playing field to help all who had need.

So the five major ingredients had five major effects: miracles, acts of generosity, worship, service, and multiplication. We may not consider that a part of the Church community but it should be. Are we making more disciples? Are we telling others about the love of Jesus? Are we working with the Holy Spirit to rescue lost souls from eternity in Hell? This was the greatest result of all the things that the early Church did.

What does all of this have to do with you today? I’m glad you asked. Here is my question to you and to me: is this what the Church you are plugged into looks like? Do these things occur on a regular basis? Are the five major ingredients and the five major effects normal in the Church community you worship with? If so, keep it up! You are making major impacts on the world. But if not, we have some problems.

If your Church community is not doing these five major things (devotion to the apostle’s teaching, to fellowship, to eating meals, and prayer) what is not present? What is keeping that thing from happening? What are you personally doing to make sure it occurs regularly? What could you do help facilitate or expand these five things?

That is my challenge for you today. Begin to consider how you can increase one of these major areas in your Church community. Maybe you need to study deeper so you can teach a class. Perhaps you need to begin a small group that shares meals, goes deeper into God’s Word, and serves each other as well as the community. I’m not sure where this lands in your heart, but I hope it lands somewhere. Today, and every day, we must take this to a deeper level if want to reach our lost and dying world for Christ.

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