I’ve been thinking about what the Church did when they first became the Church. Just after Pentecost.
Before they had a building. Before they had a budget. Long, long before the internet, blogs, smart-phones and YouTube. They stayed connected somehow and they grew. They grew as individuals and they grew as a Church. It worked for them. Can it work for us?
The Book of Acts tells us what they did.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers. Acts 2:42 (HCSB) In his record of the Early Church in Acts, Luke hits the pause button. There has been a flurry of activity in Acts 2. Up to this point, Luke has been painting with very broad strokes. Now he zooms in so we can see what the Church was doing in its earliest days. This is not to be read as if it’s a liturgy or a statement of what they did every time they were together. This is a summary.
Notice the presence of the word, “the” in the sentence. The grammar police tell me that’s a definite article. That helps us to know that these are four definite activities that the Early Church did.
They were devoted to the apostle’s teaching.
They were devoted to the fellowship.
They were devoted to the breaking of bread.
They were devoted to the prayers.
Sounds really simple but they grew a Church which became a worldwide movement. You can trace your spiritual lineage back to the apostles through these ordinary people, who did ordinary things. I bet they did these things not thinking about Church growth or reaching the world. I suspect they did these things because they thought that’s what you when you belong to Jesus – and to each other.
Four things that changed people who then changed the world.
Here’s my thought: Could it really be that simple?
Occasionally, I hear people praying and asking God for revival. Revive the Church. I know the intentions are good but sometimes I get the impression that Christians assume that revival is all about God’s work and has nothing to do with anything that requires effort on our part. As if we are asking God to revive His Church while we sit back and watch.
What Luke records for us in this passage IS revival. This is spiritually dead Israel being reformed into something new – a Church that is alive. Spiritually dead people being made alive IS revival. If you want to know what revival looks like when it hits the Church, this is it. You might have in your mind an idea that revival is characterized by emotion, hands raised up in worship, praying in different languages, healing. None of those things are mentioned in this summary statement in Acts 2.
What we see in this passage is a deep hunger for some things that we sometimes view as basic. This is not Christianity 301 or 401, this is Christianity 101 but watch what God does with this…
The Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:47 (NIV)
Lost people are saved. Saved people are discipled. God is honored, the Word is taught, Jesus is exalted, the Holy Spirt is at work and the people are united. This IS revival.