Sunday’s text, Acts 2:42-47 and 4:32-37, can be troubling to read. Seeing the fervor and love expressed among believers in the early church often makes us question what has gone wrong with the church and us. It is easy to write their experience off as a bunch of newly saved Christians living a spiritual high together, and dismiss this as the way we ought to live today. There is no question the church is a different animal today than it was then. But I’m not sure that it is better. Sometimes I think we have formalized and codified the modern church to the extent that many churches have become more like businesses with a weekly meeting of interested shareholders than a true fellowship of believers. Additionally, our society is radically different than in the day Luke wrote this. Then people were significantly less transient and church members would generally have lived in close proximity to each other and naturally seen each other regularly. The church would have been a neighborhood gathering rather than a group commuting to a central place. Our mobile society also makes it difficult for the church in many ways, including how we fellowship together and deal with problems. Instead of being stuck together like family and working through problems. Our fellowship usually takes place in the context of worship, and we typically deal with problems by bolting to another church at the first sign of trouble. What is lacking is a true sense of community where people live, love and grow together.
This lack of community not only hinders our personal growth, it hinders church growth as well. Notice at the end of the Acts 2 passage Luke writes, “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” The early church did not grow because of well-designed programs or high powered gospel presentations. The church grew because life in the community of believers was so extraordinary that people were drawn to it, wondering what made these people so different. While I think this kind of community is rare today, I don’t think it is impossible. However, in view of societal obstacles, it requires intentionality, hard work and sacrifice; but the benefits are amazing.
Do you desire more out of your life? Do you find your spiritual fervor and/or growth lacking? Are you open to having the Spirit guide you in another way of living? Read through our passages and come prepared Sunday to challenge your presuppositions of what the Christian life should look like. It could change everything!