Monday, May 25, 2015

The pure and passionate early church

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Acts 2:22-47

TO CHEW ON: "So continuing daily with one accord in the temple and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved." Acts 2:46-47

What a contrast is this band of happy, praising people with the cowed and timid group that had clung to each other a few weeks earlier. Jesus' resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit had changed everything.

We can learn a lot from this honeymoon stage of the church. Some things that stand out:

1.Their singleness of purpose.
So taken with and absorbed in this new life were these early Christ-followers that they sold their possessions and shared the proceeds with each other so that no one had material needs.

2. Their simplicity.
They pared down their lives and activities to a few essentials:
- spending time with God in the temple.
- spending time with one another, sharing hospitality and eating together.

3. Their success.
Their Spirit-inspired lifestyle caught the attention of onlookers who, noting their God-focus, generosity, the way they took care of each other, and their satisfaction with life's basics, wanted it too. The result was that every day the Lord drew people to be saved and join them.

Through the years people have tried to copy these elements of early church life, with mixed success. I don't think God expects us to mimic them by quitting our jobs and adopting a communal lifestyle. But there is much we can learn from them.

I ask, do I have the singleness of Kingdom purpose, so immune from materialism, that these early Christians had? Do I take joy in the simple activities of fellowship / koinonia?

[koinonia: sharing, unity, close association, partnership, participation, a society, a communion, a fellowship, contributory help, the brotherhood. koinonia is a unity brought about by the Holy Spirit. In koinonia the individual shares in common an intimate bond of fellowship with the rest of the Christian society. Koinonia cements the believers to the Lord Jesus and to each other" - Word Wealth, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1494]

Is there about my interactions with my Christian family such an attractiveness that those around would like to be part of it?

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for this picture of the church in its pure and passionate beginnings. Help me to be infected with that same God-hunger, generosity, contentment with simple things, gladness and gratitude. Amen.

MORE: What's the difference between the early church and us?

In a message called "The Fear of God and the Freedom from Goods," John Piper lists the elements of early church life from this passage:

They focused a lot on the teaching of the apostles (which we have in the New Testament).
• They experienced wonders and signs .
• They lived in a state of wonder and awe as they saw day in and day out the stark reality of God in healings and deliverances and changed lives of people being added to the church.
• They shared their possessions as freely with the needy as though they didn't even own them.
• They spent time in big groups in the temple.
• They ate together in their homes almost every day.
• And when they met each other, they met God. They prayed and they praised.

Then he asks:
"What makes all this hang together? What's the driving force that made those believers free from their possessions, and eager to meet needs, and full of gladness and generosity and praise and prayer when they ate together day after day?

I think the key is found in verse 43 in the phrase, "fear came upon every soul"—a joyful, trembling sense of awe that you don't trifle with the God of the apostles. That is not our experience. Today for most people, including most professing Christians, God is an idea to talk about, or an inference from an argument, or a family tradition to be preserved. But for very few people is God a stark, fearsome, stunning, awesome, shocking present REALITY. He is tame. He is distant. He is silent. Where are the churches of whom Luke could say today, "Fear—awe, wonder, trembling—is upon every soul"?
The absence of this fear has a direct effect on the way we accumulate possessions for ourselves, the way we ignore the needy, the way we trivialize fellowship, and the way we play more than we pray." - By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website:

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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