Summary: This is part 1 of my 5 week series on what the church needs to look like in the emerging culture. This looks specifically at what the early church looked like, and what those practices can look like in our world.
If you have your bibles, you can open them to Acts 2. We are starting a 5 week series today called an elemental church. This is an exciting series for me, because I hope at the end of the 5 weeks, you will have a better idea about how I think about church. Some of my hopes and dreams for us as a community and some of the places God may be leading us.
Today we are going to be looking at Acts 2, verse 42 – 47. Here is some context. Peter has just finished at the beginnings of Acts 2 preaching a message. It is what is known as the day of Pentecost. The day of Pentecost marks the day that the Holy Spirit became an active player in the lives of believers. In the Old Testament, people only knew about God the Father. In the gospels, people knew of Jesus as God’s son, and on the day that the church was birthed and a new movement was born, we began to have an understanding of the Holy Spirit. So we have Peter preaching this message, and it says in Acts 2 verse 41 that at the end of his message, over 3000 believed and joined this new movement. I love that word for the church. So often we think of Christianity as kind of this blah religion, something that is tolerated. But I love to think of it as a movement, as a revolution, because that is how it started out.
So let’s pick up after that. Look up at the side screens and read this with me.
42And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43And awe[a] came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
What jumps out at you from that passage? (Get feedback)
I think what is important to see right off the bat, was everything that is described here was done in community. What we have done within Christianity is successfully made our spiritual lives individualistic. That was never the intention. Throughout the Bible, people’s spirituality was directly connected to their community. My spiritual life is as much your concern as yours is mine. In the Old Testament God saved the nation of Israel and made them his children and said, he was blessing them and saving them to be a blessing to others. In the New Testament, this continued with the early church.
There is an interesting story in Mark 2, you can flip there. This is what it says in verse 1: 1And when he (Jesus) returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. 3And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. 5And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "My son, your sins are forgiven."
So the book of Acts and pretty much the whole New Testament does not make sense if we don’t think communally. We will miss a lot of the point if we think like individuals.
What happens when we are on our own is just that, we are on our own. When we go through struggles we do it alone. In those moments when we need community, we have not done the work of building. So I think it is important to look at this passage through the communal lens.
So verse 42, And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. The first thing it talks about is the fact that they met together. They met together for prayer, to grow together, to have community with each other.
Verse 43 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible: And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. Have you ever had a moment inside or outside of church, a moment with God that you just couldn’t speak. Maybe it is a worship gathering, you were outside and saw something expand, saw something that spoke to your soul in a way that words never have or never will be able to describe, a moment when speaking would ruin the moment. That is what is happening here. The church was having so many of these moments that Luke, who wrote the book of Acts, had to mention it. I think God wants us to experience those things, moments when we think, we get to be a part of this. That is how we should feel about being a part of this movement. That we are seeing our lives and the lives of those around us being change that we think, wow.