The Church and Community

Today wasn’t as busy as yesterday, which was good. I received some initial feedback from the publisher of my book project and it is ready to go through the formal editing process. I enjoyed connecting for lunch with Pastor Steve Harris. It has been a long time since we have connected. After a little afternoon nap, I made it to the fitness center for a workout.

BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY… Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude, praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved. Acts 2:46-47 HCSB

When the Church was established on the Day of Pentecost, a new community was formed. They not only experienced a shared faith, but a shared life. Their sense of community was reflected in an attitude and practice of meeting needs even to the point of personal sacrifice. We then see they committed themselves to fellowship in large and small groups. They recognized the presence of the Lord in their midst and it resulted in joy and favor with God and others.

The life of the church is referenced several times in the first few chapters of Acts. Usually, scriptural repetition is for emphasis. How they lived and conducted their lives together is instructive for us today, even in the midst of a different culture and time.

We find this reference in Acts 4, after the arrest of Peter and John:

“Now the large group of those who believed were of one heart and mind, and no one said that any of his possessions was his own… And the apostles were giving testimony with great power to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was on all of them. For there was not a needy person among them, because all those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet. This was then distributed for each person’s basic needs.” (Acts 4:32-35)

Much of these verses is a repeat to underscore the unity and concern the church had for each other. If there is a factor that impacts the effectiveness of a church, it is unity. A lack of unity, can negate the most effective church leadership; with unity, leaders looks “successful” whoever the person may be. I recall years ago, visiting a friend who was the pastor of one of the fastest growing churches in the country. As we visited, he didn’t point to programs or his preaching, but to the unity that characterized the church.

The next occurrence is found in Acts 5. This is after the apostles were place in prison again:

“Every day in the temple complex, and in various homes, they continued teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.” (Acts 5:42 HCSB)

After the unity of the church was threatened with the deception of Ananias and Sapphira; the apostles are once again place in prison, miraculously released, tried before the Sanhedrin, flogged and then finally released. The verse above shows their continued commitment to each other and the gospel.

One of the consistent themes that arises from these passages is a commitment to community and proclamation. Both of them were of importance. They didn’t shrink in fear and huddle as a “christian society.” They didn’t focus so much on proclaiming the gospel that they neglected relationship and meeting needs. This is an important balance for any church today.

The commitments and principles that were established in Acts 2 are reflected in Acts 4 and 5. One the Day of Pentecost the “Church” was born. In their infancy they devoted themselves to the basics; and those basics are still important for the life of the church today.