I love the simplicity of the early followers of Jesus. They did not go to church, but they were the church. They learned to live together in such a way that was not religious but life giving. They developed some simple commitments and rhythms that fostered growth in them and through them.The early church was like a “floating party” I have heard before. They were full of life and joy, and others found themselves swept up in the current of the church’s life in the Spirit.
We first see the church being formed together on the day of Pentecost when Peter preaches the first sermon of the church after the Spirit is poured out upon the church. More than 3,000 people responded to Peter’s call to be saved. Scripture then records what these early believers did: “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe[d] came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common … And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42-47)
We see four major commitments the early church made. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, the fellowship, to worship and prayer, and to reaching out to make a difference. First, we see their commitment to the teaching of God’s Word. On the day of Pentecost, a new school was opened in Jerusalem as people committed themselves to knowing and learning God’s word. They were hungry to be taught and to grow. We often do not get into the Bible and into prayer because we have more confidence in ourselves to lead and guide our lives than God. This is foolish. We need a simple, yet powerful commitment to learning and reading scripture.
They were also devoted to community, to one another as the body of Christ. They committed themselves to one another. Our relationship with God is personal, but never private. Our faith life is meant to be lived out in fellowship with others. We are called to encourage one another, pray for one another, sharpen one another, convict one another, etc. We truly need other believers in our lives to fully live out our faith life. It cannot be done alone.
They were devoted to worship and prayer. They gathered together to come in the presence of God. Their meals and fellowship involved loving and encouraging one another, but it was also meant to encounter God together. The breaking of bread can mean a simple meal, but it also contains the idea of Holy Communion. They would take the body and blood of Christ as a reminder of the love and power of Jesus Christ. They prayed together because they truly believed God heard them, and would move in power when they cried out to him. We often gather and complain about our problems, gossip about other people, and spend little time crying out to God for break-though in our lives. The early church prayed, and they saw heaven move upon the earth. Let us pray with faith and power!
The early church was also committed to making a difference. They wanted to make an impact in their neighborhoods and communities. They loved and served and had favor with all the people. And the Lord kept adding to their number those who were being saved. Lives were being changed. The church cannot be content with just keeping the same people happy week after week, while never caring about reaching out to those who are not there — to those who do not know the Lord Jesus. The church should have a commitment to making a difference in the world around them. Our call is not overly complex. It is churches that tend to make it that way. May God give us grace to keep it simple, that He might become powerful in and through us.
And that’s the Word.
The Rev. David Yarborough is pastor of St. Simons Community Church. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 912-634-2960.