Do our churches resemble the ones that are described in Acts 2? If not, why not? And...Here it comes...remember we are the church...it’s not “those guys”!
First things first—I love the Church! With that being said, there are times that I have pictured the Lord in my car coming home from a Sunday Service and Him saying to me, “Now what exactly was that?” And I respond, “That was Church” to which He then responds, “It’s not exactly what I had in mind!”
As I think about the Church today, I have flashbacks of the reality program, The Biggest Loser. On this program you have real people who, somewhere along the road of life, lost control and lost direction, and allowed their bodies literally to double in size, literally eating anything and everything in sight. This program has allowed them to stop their madness and to work hard at redefining themselves.
As you watch the show from week to week, you can see the spark of life returning as they work hard to lose weight and to battle destructive life patterns and, at the end of the series, the “before” and “after” pictures are often hard to believe! Now, as I said before ... I love the Church! I am suggesting that we get on the scales and take a good look at who we are and where we are going! So many have lost their way and no longer resemble who we were originally created to be.
In order for the Church to be the light that Yeshua intends for it to be in this world, there are areas where darkness is creeping in and there are some things that we need to root out and pluck up.
What the Church Is NOT
So, let’s begin by addressing the things that the Church is NOT! The Church is not a business; it is not a corporation; it is not of this world! The Church is not brick and mortar; it is not programs and outings; it is not high-def Dolby surround sound! The Church is not a concert hall.
What the Church IS
The Church is the Body of Christ. The Church is people. The Church is made up of many parts and no two are alike. The Church is gifted with apostles, teachers, pastors, evangelists, encouragers, healers, prophets, and even those with the gift of administration!
The Church is a place where two or more are gathered in His Name. When the Church gathers, it becomes a place where His own can experience and enter into His rest.
When the Church gathers, one will bring a psalm, and another a teaching. It becomes a place where people are edified. And it also is a place where the sick can ask for the elders to anoint them with oil and have the prayers of the saints intercede on their behalf. The Church is the place where the Scriptures are discussed, interpreted and preached. It is where koinonia takes place, where folks use their giftings to build one another up. Do you get the picture?
Those Who Were Devoted
When we get on the scales, is this the picture we see of today’s Church? Can we look back in time and see if we resemble those who were once known as The Way? Those who were devoted (that word in the original language is proskartere) (Acts 2:42). This word carries with it the following definitions:
1) To adhere to one, be his adherent, to be devoted or constant to one;
2) To be steadfastly attentive unto, to give unremitting care to a thing;
3) To continue all the time in a place;
4) To persevere and not to faint;
5) To show one’s self courageous for;
6) To be in constant readiness for one, wait on constantly.
As you can see this word denotes passion; it is not a synonym for being “somewhat casual”! So just what were our spiritual forefathers devoted to? They were devoted to the apostles’ teachings, the breaking of bread, the fellowship and prayer!
Let’s take a moment to reflect on these fundamental elements which, if we are taking them in, might transform us from a 400-pound-plus body that is out of control and has lost its way to a lean mean fighting machine that once again has the eye of the tiger and is turning the world upside down!
It’s important to remember that this evaluation is directed to you and me, because WE are the Church!
Devoted to The Word
First, they were committed to the apostles’ teachings. I take this to mean that they were committed to the entire Word of God.
Much like the Bereans of their day, they were those who studied to make sure that what was taught, preached, and prophesied could be validated in Scripture. This was not something that was just given to the leaders to perform. They were devoted to the Word of God, studying to show themselves approved, workman rightly handling the Word of Truth; those who had the words, “It is written” on the tips of their tongues at all times! Those who, like Stephen, witnessed about Yeshua by using the Old Testament alone!
My friends, our forefathers hid the Word in their hearts; they made daily deposits of it so that when needed the Holy Spirit could swoop in and bring to mind the living words of Scripture. It was likened to a double-edged sword ... that cut, divided and left no prisoners!
Question: Is our church devoted to the Word like that? If not, then let’s roll up our sleeves and get started! The time is short and the darkness is creeping in. We need the light of God’s Word to dispel this impending darkness!
Devoted to Fellowship
Next we are told that they were devoted to koinonia (the fellowship). Do we need to be reminded of the “one anothers” listed in the Scriptures? The bottom line is that we are individually gifted in order that we might edify one another. As we look back, we see a community that took it to the level of sharing all things in common—no one claiming to own anything but that all things were available for the community. As difficult as it may be for us today, we need to remind ourselves that this type of living is what the teaching of Jesus pointed to. Service and giving need to take precedence over ruling and obtaining! (Please don’t shoot the messenger!)
Question: Do our churches resemble the ones that are described in Acts 2? If not, why not? And ... here it comes—remember WE are the Church…It’s not “those guys”!
Devoted to Prayer
We then come to the subject of something that we all probably know something about and that subject is prayer. They were devoted to it.
I might mention that the text in Acts states clearly that for all these disciplines, the prescribed devotion was daily! When Jesus confronted the adversaries of His day concerning His Father’s House, He described it as being a House of Prayer.
Question: How central is prayer to our gatherings? I’m sure we all pray over our meals but truly is that it? Do we as Believers have a set time to boldly approach His Throne of Grace and bring both our own personal petitions and our prayers of intercession before Him? I know that you probably know all of this but the real question is not do you know it, it’s are you DOING it? May we once again experience rooms shaking as we (the Church) recommit ourselves to becoming those who are devoted to prayer!
Devoted to Communion
Finally we come to the subject of being devoted to the breaking of bread. I believe that this is a reference to communion. For me, there is something that is a bit unexplainable when it comes to the Lord’s Table. The Scriptures teach us that we are never to partake without proper preparation. We are to do it often in remembrance of Him.
As I hold the bread and the cup, I hold in my hands the proof of God’s amazing love! Truly these are the gifts of God for the people of God. I have heard it said that the closest one can ever come to touching God is by coming to the Table of the Lord and receiving the bread and the wine!
As we assemble ourselves as the Church, whether it be in homes or in buildings, let us be devoted to Communion. As I said before those gifts are a bit mysterious; they seem to have the power to both energize and, according to Paul, if done haphazardly or in an unworthy manner, end one’s life!
The hope of the unsaved world today is that the Church would be what Yeshua intended; that those who name the Name would rise up, pick up their crosses and follow in the dust of their Rabbi. When it comes to the end may we all purpose in our hearts that we would be found FAITHFUL.