A few weeks ago I posted a piece I wrote on this subject that focused on how important it was to the first century church to pray together. (You can read it here) I am convinced that the spiritual weakness of an individual believer, or a church will always point first to a prayer weakness. It is very clear that prayer, and especially praying together, was essential to our earliest churchmen.
The next observation that caught my attention as I read through the Acts and other NT books is how they loved one another. The very first expression of the new found faith of those 3,000 plus who were added to the church after Peter’s sermon at Pentecost was water repentance and baptism in water. The very next picture of those new believers is this one.
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47)
They devoted themselves to the Apostle’s teaching, fellowship, breaking bread, and prayers. You say, cool, I’m all in on that stuff, it’s all stuff I enjoy. But, they had all things for the common good and sold their stuff to take care of others less fortunate. Most of us are not in a rush to do that. But, these believers did just that.
Love is a verb. You don’t love someone from the comfort of your recliner, you DO something. These people loved others more than they loved their stuff, more than their money! It’s a very difficult lesson but there is a lesson here. Measured up against this standard almost all of us are way off track. I have some growing to do! How about you?.
Then they worshiped together, they shared meals together, with glad and generous hearts! And the result? They had favor with all the people and lots of folks were being saved.
So, what is the missing ingredient in our churches. What is the possible reason we are not seeing people saved on a regular basis. We like the teaching! We like the meals! We even enjoy fellowship! But we don’t pray together much and we are stingy. Oh my how that truth hurts… Suggest your church members have a big sale of “stuff” and give all the money to the poor in your congregation. Feel the love yet?
We want to be a New Testament church but we want to get there by dotting all the I’s and crossing all the T’s on Sunday morning and ignoring the important stuff. Sorry, If we don’t really love our brothers and sisters in tangible ways we don’t qualify to be a New Testament church.