Summary: The early Christians devoted themselves to: 1. The Apostle’s teaching - learning. 2. The Fellowship - worship. 3. Breaking Bread - friendship. 4. Prayer
This description of the early church is truly amazing. Something had happened to these otherwise ordinary people. The people who were a part of this church no longer thought of themselves — their own rights and possessions — their whole identity was a group identity. They found their meaning and identity in each other rather than their individual selves. They realized that they were a part of something bigger than themselves. They were connected.
Did you ever play connect the dots when you were a child? Do you remember the coloring books where there might be a few lines and then just a bunch of dots? It wouldn’t look like anything until you began to connect the dots, and then a picture began to appear. That’s what we want to do today. We want to connect the dots so that we get the bigger picture of what it takes to be a church. We want to get connected. We get the picture when we begin to be connected to God and to his people. And when we are all connected to each other, then a picture begins to appear — and it is the face of Christ. When we get connected with each other we also connect the dots for the world and they begin to see God.
Dr. Edward Hallowell has written a book simply called Connect. In it he says, “We are a nation of doers. We hurry from place to place, filling our lives with all kinds of activities, sometimes over-scheduling our kids and ourselves. But what really sustains us emotionally, psychologically and physically is connectedness, the feeling that we are part of something that matters, something larger than ourselves that gives life meaning. Just as there is a vitamin deficiency, there is a human contact deficiency and it weakens the body, the mind and the spirit. Its ravages can be severe — depression, physical illness, early death. Or they can be mild — underachievement, fatigue, and loneliness. Just as we need Vitamin C each day, we also need a dose of human contact everyday with other people.”
This church exists to connect people to God and each other. That is why we changed the name of our Wednesday small groups to Wednesday Connection. But even though we may have a few hundred people here on a typical Sunday, not all of us are connected. Some are merely observers. You are a part of the worship, but you don’t know many other people, because you are not in a small group or you don’t participate in one of the outreach ministries. You need that connection. This church is not a place to attend, it is a family to become connected to. If you want to be spiritually and emotionally healthy you need to actually be connected to this family.
As I read the second chapter of Acts I was enormously impressed by the connectedness of the church. I noticed four things about that church. The first thing it says about them is: They devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching. In other words, they devoted themselves to learning. They wanted to know more about God and his Son Jesus Christ. They wanted to know how God wanted them to live and what they should be doing. They wanted to know more about Christ and how he reflected the heart and character of God. It was not a chore for them to learn, they were fascinated by these new truths and couldn’t seem to get enough. They were committed to learning.
This is one of the signs of a healthy church and a healthy Christian — a commitment to learning the Word of God and growing in our knowledge of him. Growing Christians are in the Word and any other books or material that will help them understand the Christian life more deeply. Learning is an important part of the Christian life. When you get to the place where you think you know all you need to know or want to know, then you are in trouble. When you stop learning you stop growing, and when you stop growing you become spiritually stagnant.
David Gibson from Idaho tells this story: “My friend bought a 19-foot jet boat and invited me along for her maiden voyage. We put the boat in the North Fork of the Snake River. The water was low because of a drought. My friend eased the throttle up until we were racing across the surface at 35 m.p.h. Suddenly we hit a sandbar, and the boat stopped. We stepped out, into one inch of water. Another boater came along, and after three hours of digging and pushing, we freed our boat. Our rescuer knew the river well and offered to lead us to the landing. ‘Follow exactly behind me,’ he said, ‘to avoid hidden obstacles.’ We fell in line, skimming the water at 35 m.p.h. Then, my friend steered just a few feet to the right of the lead boat’s path. In seconds we hit a gravel bar, and I was thrown into the windshield. When he returned, the lead driver said, ‘I told you to follow me.’” But his friend thought that he should be able to do it on his own without any advise or help from anyone else. It was a hard lesson to learn, and he learned it the hard way.