Today I challenge you to think on this thought…
What if the church became, not just the Sunday morning time of worship but a community of people living in unity, living in full time worship. I know the word church isn’t the most attractive word so let’s now change that word to something different. Let’s change it to remnant. What if the remnant met anywhere, anytime there was a need within its people? What if the remnant met every day just to spend time together in prayer and worship? What if the remnant shared meals together? What if we were more of a family then just a group of people who got together once a week and the only thing that unified us was we were in the same building singing the same songs and listening to the same pastor preach? Now I know not all churches are like this but what if even those started to look more like a family to outsiders.
During my small group we recently studied the verses Acts 2:42-47.
42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and [a]to prayer.
43 [b]Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and [c]signs were taking place through the apostles. 44 And all those who had believed [d]were together and had all things in common; 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread [e]from house to house, they were taking their [f]meals together with gladness and [g]sincerity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding [h]to their number day by day those who were being saved.
This is what the church looked like when churches first began and I believe this is what God intends churches to be.
First let’s look at the definition of TOGETHER. (Since it is repeated throughout this text)
1 a : in or into one place, mass, collection, or group
b : in a body : as a group <students and faculty together presented the petition>
2 a : in or into contact (as connection, collision, or union)
b : in or into association or relationship
3 a : at one time
b : in succession
4 a : by combined action
b : in or into agreement or harmony
c : in or into a unified or coherent structure or an integrated whole
5a : with each other
b : as a unit : in the aggregate
c : considered as a whole : counted or summed up
As you can see through the definition, there are many layers to the word, together, but mostly it leans towards not just being in one place at the same time but being there in harmony, unity or existing as a whole. I find that a lot of churches can just be a meeting place of mainly acquaintances who have come together to worship. Which is great and all but don’t you crave something more, something deeper? I think this passage goes so much deeper then that.
There are a few things that stand out in this passage:
1. The fact that is says “as anyone might have need” goes to show that they took care of each other. Giving up everything they had to share so that none went without.
2. It also looks like they took turns in eating at each house but still together. I grew up in a home where my mom felt that eating supper together as a family was the most important time of the day. As a teenager, we knew that if we were out and about as soon as 5:30 hit we had to be home to have our dinner together as a family.This created a sense of unity.
3. It also clearly states they gathered day by day and not once a week or even two times a week but day by day to study the Apostle’s teachings. If we stay immersed in the teachings of God regularly, in my experience, it’s so much easier to stay focused on what really matters. You don’t become so distracted by things of the world and without all the distractions it’s so much easier to hear what God is speaking into our lives. This point can lead into the next.
4. With everyone’s focus on God and the distraction of life put aside, the people had the same focus in mind. As it says in verse 4 they had all things in common. I think when you have the same priorities and goals in life, you have so much more in common. (As a mother I have a lot of other friends, some of whom I may not have many similar interests, but because a lot of our focus is on being a mother and our children, it seems we have everything in common at this point in our lives. I believe this is also like being with other believers.
5. It also shows that they prayed together. I also think this is a very important point. We, as the body of Christ need to be in conversation with God. The way to accomplish this is through prayer. In Matthew 18:19-20 it says “19Again, I tell you truly that if two of you on the earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by My Father in heaven. 20For where two or three gather together in My Name, there am I with them.” When we pray together great things can be accomplished, strongholds broken and miracles can happen. Without prayer there is no relationship with God and our God is a God of relationship. His desire is to know us and for us to know him. Strength also comes with unity in prayer. Since God appointed man to rule over the animals and the earth (as stated in the book of Genesis), words have great meaning (something I will post on at a later time). Through Christ we have authority here on earth. Praying for and with others also brings us back to point 1. Praying for each other is also filling each other’s needs. (And a very important action within the church). To truly be open and share our prayer needs requires trust and trust comes through relationship and unity.
This sense of unity and family is what people naturally desire. I took sociology in college and we studied the whole phenomenon. An example is why some youth drawn to join gangs. Plain and simple it’s the “family” aspect of the gangs. How they look out for each other. This is one negative side of our natural instinct to be drawn to that sense of belonging. Now if we took this understanding and truly became a church that had the family mentality I could see outsiders be drawn in. As in the early church it says that the Lord was adding day by day those that were being saved. People would naturally be drawn to this “new culture” of the church, it would be so much easier for them to see and understand God’s love and grace, leading to the transformation and salvation of their lives.
With all that said, I am not one to promote sheltering yourself with only Christian people. I am all about being in the world (but not of the world). If we aren’t out there to be the proof of Gods great love for everyone how would they see or know of Him? I am sure you have loved ones who aren’t believers. Wouldn’t them seeing you being an important part of a group like this speak wonders to them? An example of this was when I had my last baby. My brother-in-law came down for a few days. He was astonished and couldn’t understand when people from my church showed up each night with a hot meal for us. He couldn’t believe the care and kindness these people showed.
I firmly believe that if we have a strong church family that follows the example of the early church in these verses, we will have the strength to go out and shine God’s love into the dark places in this world. We would truly have the prayer support and feel the sense of belonging that God intends us to have. Wouldn’t this church be a great example of the family of God?