Summary: The early church was a united church. They would exhibit a level of unity and oneness that will forever be an example and challenge to churches everywhere.
A Tour Through Acts ~ part 6
A United Church
All the believers were together and had everything in common. (Acts 2:44)
I was walking across a bride one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. I immediately ran over and said, "Stop! Don’t do it!"
"Why shouldn’t I?" he said.
I said, "Well, there’s so much to live for!"
"Well, are you religious or atheist?"
"Me too! Are you Christian or Jewish?"
"Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?"
"Me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?"
"Wow! Me too! Are you Original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?"
"Reformed Baptist Church of God."
"Me too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915?"
"Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915!"
To which I said, "Die, heretic scum!" and pushed him off.
When it comes to unity, there is a lot of intolerance in even the church today. It seems that some people want others to agree on everything, and when others do not think like they do, they withdraw their fellowship and friendship.
I once heard the president of a college say that a certain denomination was the most united denomination he had ever seen. He said that in this denomination there was a small group united over here, and another small group united over there, and another small group united somewhere else. Of course, what he was talking about was the division, not the unity in this denomination. So many times churches split because of a lack of unity. I remember one such church split where one group broke away from a church and adopted the church name "Unity", of all things. But we do not need to call ourselves "Unity"; we need to exhibit unity in the body of Christ.
It has always been fascinating to me why the many cults and other misguided fringe groups have so much success. Some of these groups proclaim a message which is much harder to believe than biblical Christianity. If one has to take a leap of faith to believe Christianity then one needs a launching pad and a booster rocket to believe many of these messages. Yet they are growing and finding considerable success. I wonder why that is?
Well, certainly one factor is that they believe in hard work. Evangelism is not optional with them. They understand the saying that goes, “If it is to be, it is up to me.” It is central to their purpose for existing. While the same should be true for us, many Christians simply do not take personal evangelism seriously.
Another reason, however, and I believe the main reason why these cults are so successful, is that they are uncompromisingly united. They have a shared vision, a common goal, a singular purpose. And they go after their goal with unadulterated zeal. I believe that this is why they are so successful. This kind of unity is very attractive to many people — people who are tired of the religious confusion and uncertainty they have experienced in many main-line churches. Unity is so very important.
The early church was a united church. They would exhibit a level of unity and oneness that will forever be an example and challenge to churches everywhere.
All the believers were together… (v. 44a)
Notice that it says that the believers were together. In Acts 2 there is a lot said about being together. At the very beginning of the chapter we read, "When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place." And in verse 46 we read, "Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts."
There is something about togetherness that is foundational for unity. Coming together is the first step toward unity. It is so important that the very phrase "come together" has become a synonym for unity.
When God saves people, He puts them into a community called the local church. This simply means that He puts us together physically. He wants us to learn to love one another. He wants us to find a way to pull together in the same direction. This is what He did with those early disciples in the upper room. The 120 who were waiting for the power of the Holy Spirit to fall were together day and night in the upper room. What do you think they were doing all that time? Well, they were certainly praying some of the time. But they were also talking, sharing their fears, their hopes and their hesitations, they were sharing their lives. They were taking the time to develop relationships and to become one. They were becoming a team, a community.