Ideal Church Exhibition?
Almighty God, You made me in Your image and breathed into me the breath of life. I wait for You now.
Read Acts 2:40-47
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“What matters in the church is not religion but the form of Christ, and that it’s taking form amidst a band of men and women” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer).
The picture here is unlike anything most of us experience. The 120 in the upper room are suddenly multiplied almost thirty times. That presents serious problems incorporating and disciplining the new Christians. It must have been more disorganized than a quick reading suggests, but look at the church which emerges.
It values teaching (42). In our age, which questions the value of doctrine and the concept of absolute truth, we cannot afford to lose sight of the fact that truth matters.
It makes fellowship central (42). “It is the Lord’s prerogative to add new members to his own community. It is the joyful prerogative of existing members to welcome to their fellowship those whom he has accepted” (F.F. Bruce). The practicalities of available space and the needs of the new converts inevitably led to a small-group model of church life. While a common financial pool (44) is not laid out as a blueprint for church life in every culture or across all ages, fellowship expressed in practical ways is always a key element of church life. This is more than a cup of coffee and a quick talk on Sunday morning; it touches the whole of life. “In the eyes of the early Christians a proper realignment of one’s attitude to material possessions was a necessary result of true faith in Jesus as Messiah, an inevitable result of a true response to the reception of the Holy Spirit” (David Gooding).
While there is no developed idea of a Communion service at this stage, bread is broken to remember Jesus as he had instructed. At this table all are one in Christ, with no division or distinction. It impacts the wider community, being visible in public (46) and ministering to others (43).
What aspects of church life depicted here would you like to see incorporated into your church? How might this happen? Thank God for the good in your church.
Lord, the early church seems so alive and Spirit-led. Today, our churches often seem over-organized and slow to act. Guide us back to the basics of being Your people.
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