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The community of faith

October 12, 2009

acts2-1The Church in the west is impotent because we refuse to love each other.

We started going through the book of Acts with the students last Friday. We decided we’re supposed to be disciples, and Acts is probably the best place to go to figure out what that looks like. So I’ve been spending a lot of time studying Acts in over-view, and chapter-by-chapter. Last Friday we were on chapter two.

When I think of Acts 2 I think of Pentecost. That’s how it starts, and that’s what I usually go to Acts 2 for – to show someone Pentecost and the Holy Spirit  and speaking in tongues. To validate my sanity, basically. ;)

But the end of Acts 2 is exactly what we’re looking for on Friday nights, and focusing on that for a week stirred something in me. Verses 42 though 47 articulate a pretty vivid description of the Church, or community of faith, at the very beginning.

And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.

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 favor with all people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

Verse 42 identifies four things the disciples did, and verse 43 beings, “Then.” The sacrifice described – that friends would sell their valuables to help pay someone else’s bills – is staggering.

Verses 46 and 47 again share a similar theme, but in a particular order. First is the things they did “daily,” and then is what the Lord did “daily.”

Our first Friday in Acts we discussed the theme of the book as the kingdom of God – it starts with Jesus talking about the kingdom of God, and ends with Paul preaching the kingdom of God. We also talked about how the disciples were not sent out until they had the power of the Holy Spirit.

In chapter two they’ve not been sent out yet, and I think they’re learning the fulfillment of John 13:34-35,

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

And what did it look like? We pulled out four big things on Friday: studying the word, continued fellowship (especially over a good meal, apparently), sacrificial giving, and prayer.

If the first century Church needed the Holy Spirit and love for one another, how much more do we?  Verse 47 clearly says that it’s God who adds to His Church, and we know that no one can come to Christ unless the Father draw him (John 6:44). But I don’t think He’ll do it if His Church can’t love one another first. He’s not going to add to a broken body, disheveled bride, or a dysfunctional family.

Of course, people are saved in the West every day, but I wonder if we can pray for a great harvest and cry out for revival without first dealing with gossip, disunity, envy, and bitterness at home.

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