We witnessed the birth of the church in our last time together. Today we get to see how it is continuing to grow and what it looks like.
The first thing I need to do though is to refine my language. The church wasn’t an it or a thing or even a place. It was made up of each and every individual who repented of their sins and accepted Jesus as their Savior. It was a living, breathing and growing body of believers. So when I say “it” I’m referring to everyone in that body collectively. I’m sure most of you understood what I meant in the beginning but I wanted to remove any doubt.
This body of believers was growing daily. The first day it grew exponentially! From 120 to over 3,000! It didn’t keep up these numbers every day but there were new believers joining them every day. God’s Spirit was drawing them. The people’s testimony and the miracles being done couldn’t be dismissed. Everyone was watching what was growing from the Root of Jesse. From the fulfillment of the promise. From the resurrected Jesus.
The overwhelming traits seen in the beginning church were: hunger for the teachings of Jesus. joy of community, and generosity. These new converts hung on the apostles teaching and just being with them. They wanted everything they could learn from them. Not because they idolized them but because they had been with Jesus daily for 3 ½ years. If anyone knew the Master it was them. They also went to the temple daily. I’m not sure if this was an evangelistic effort or a praise and prayer routine. The temple was the best place to find others who were hungry for the truth. I imagine these new believers shared their testimony as often as possible.
Luke tells us that they were breaking bread and praying together every day. Everyone was welcome at the table. I doubt southern hospitality could even hold a candle to the early church. What better way to spend time with someone than to share a meal. This provided plenty of time for sharing Jesus’ words and their love for one another.
We are also told that these people were beyond generous. They not only shared their table but sold whatever they had to make sure that others didn’t go without. I believe this generosity was a direct result of their gratitude for Jesus’ work in their lives. How can we see one of our brothers or sisters in need and turn away and still say we love Jesus. If we truly love Him we will love those He loved. We will care for those He cared for.
As I sit here and write this all the homeless people begging on the street pop into my mind. I have so much more than they do, yet I don’t often stop and give of what I have. I have tried in the past only to be rebuffed when I offered food instead of money. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do here. I feel guilty.
Something that also just occurred to me was that the church didn’t go out and try and feed and clothe everyone on the street. They shared their testimony everywhere but they supported those in the body. I have a feeling they would help an “outsider” if one came to them in need but I don’t think they made it a practice to support the world. I could very easily be wrong here though. But that still leaves me with the question of what to do with those on the street corner asking for help. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated!
We are SO far away from what the original church was! We divide ourselves along doctrinal lines. We pick and choose which of Jesus’ words we want to take to heart. We shake our brother’s and sister’s hands but don’t really get to know their hearts. We spend a few hours a week in the presence of one another and often even less time in the presence of God. We look after our own needs above everyone else’s.
I am as guilty of this as anyone else! I don’t even get to attend a body of believers. Not that I wouldn’t love to again but my husband’s health prevents it. I even find myself skipping my time with God and my journal. Sometimes it is understandable but other times it’s just because I’m lazy. Forgive me Father!
Thank You Father for the early model. I pray I can emulate them better than I have been doing. Father God guide me in Your path when I encounter those claiming to be in need. Show me who and how to truly help those You lead me to. Remind me and prompt me to spend time EVERY DAY with You. Thank You for Your forgiveness and grace when I miss out time. I love You and want to be more like Jesus every day.