What brings you to church?
- To serve, for friends, to learn and worship God together or forced to come?
The first church was devoted to these 4 key characteristics:
- The apostle’s Teaching: The Gospel is the good news that Jesus Christ died for all of humanity’s sins on the cross, resurrected and now there is hope for eternal life for whoever believes in Jesus Christ.
- The Holy Spirit was working in the midst so the community of believers had a common mission, identity and a sense of common understanding of urgency.
- Fellowship. In Greek is Koinonia and it involves generosity, sharing and giving in active participation.
- Most importantly: koinonia involves love. We as believers are to Love God and others as ourselves.
- Breaking of Bread: has 2 meanings: it could mean Communion, to remember Christ and or to eat food together.
- Prayer: Prayer is powerful and essential to life as believers.
The overall results of the church’s devotion to the apostle's teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer:
- Awe, fear and reverence that God was at work among them.
- A glad and generous heart that came from a posture of gratefulness
- Love and care for each other became more important to them than things or their own comfort. Motivated to willingly and freely give for the sake of others.
- Attracted others' attention and also ignited a desire for others to join and learn more about God because of how different, how united, and loving the fellowship of the Church was.
- They no longer lived for themselves but as one body, the body of Christ, for the one true Living God who came and is coming back soon.
What makes us different today from the first church?
- Our western culture drives us to individualism and consumerism. We have an “everything revolves around Me” mentality. To become gods ourselves. We carry this mentality into the church.
- The first church had Christ at the center of EVERYTHING. Their lives revolve around Jesus Christ. Their mission, identity and urgency all stem from Christ being at the center.
Today, we still proclaim that Jesus is Lord. But Why isn’t our community, our fellowship of believers like that of Acts 2?
- It’s because we have other things that we also value almost or even as much as Jesus is Lord as criteria for who we welcome and embrace into our fellowship.
- We’ve added our own expectations and criteria on what makes our own communities (ie. social status, political views, life stages..etc).
- When the early church said God cared, the care they gave demonstrated it. The Acts 2 church’s life as a community was their testimony.
- United by Jesus Christ, The Acts 2 Church lived life together in unity.
What can we do?
- Stop focusing on ourselves so much. Allow what connects us to each other be our proclamation that Jesus is Lord, nothing else.
- To ask the Holy Spirit to invoke in us the ability to see what God sees, to care for and love others.
Living life together in a community is not easy because we are all sinful, flawed human beings. We all hurt and hurt others. That is why we need the Holy Spirit. It is through the work of the Holy Spirit that fosters community. We will fail solely by relying on our own efforts. That is why we need God’s Word, his teachings. That is why we need fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer. We need the church community because this is where we all learn to become better imitators of Jesus Christ, a place where we can keep each other accountable. Where we learn to love, care, forgive, listen, serve, and grow as one body united in Jesus Christ.
The church began about 2000 years ago. Although culture, lifestyle, and norms have changed, one thing still remains true over all these years and for the time to come is that Jesus is Lord and He is coming back soon.
The gospel changed the lives of the believers and transformed them. In the same way, today as followers of Christ, we also have been transformed by the gospel. We also look forward to Jesus’ coming.
So, although gathering in person with others and welcoming new people into our community may not be the most comfortable thing for you, or serving in a new position and needing to arrive early to help, or even coming every week is a struggle, we know our efforts are not in vain because God is working, he is wanting to work through you and others around you to bring more people to himself, to bring salvation, the Good News to all even right now.
May Jesus Christ be the center of our community. May we be a community united by the blood of Christ, living together for the one true Living God who came and is coming back again.