Acts 2v42 – 47: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to everyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
This passage of scripture gives us incredible insight into the everyday life of a follower of Jesus in the early church. We see that they were devoted to the gospel (the apostle’s teaching), to one another, to the breaking of bread, to prayer, to hospitality, community and eating together in one another’s homes. All of these were central practices to what God was doing in and through them.
The disciples of Jesus were building community in the same way that Jesus had taught them to do it. When reading through the gospels we see how Jesus used meals as opportunities to reshape and change the culture around him, and to connect and engage with all kinds of people. Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners, the religious elite and the humble servant, with crowds of people and at small and intimate dinner parties. Meals for Jesus were an invitation to relationship and reconciliation with God. Jesus’ ministry was highly relational.
When we study the life of Jesus we see that he was passionate about having a relationship with people no matter who they were, and no matter what their background was. And he was passionate about building new Gospel communities where people both genuinely loved and cared for one another in word and deed, and where people were devoted to loving and serving God together.
This is what we see happening in the life of the church in Acts 2. They were a people committed to the Gospel of Jesus, and they devoted their lives to it. They knew that the death and resurrection of Jesus changed everything. And that in Jesus people could be reconciled to God and find freedom. That in Jesus we find true life, that we can be renewed, changed and made whole, and welcomed by God into his family.
The early Church regularly broke bread together, practicing hospitality and sharing meals as an act of remembrance for all that God had done for them on the Cross, and to celebrate their salvation. They were devoted to prayer, living lives that were dependent on God and empowered by the Holy Spirit, knowing their need for God and the Spirit’s power in all of life. They were generous with one another, modelling the generosity that God had shown them in sending His son to die for their sins so that they could be reconciled to Him.
They were a community centred around Jesus and the message of the Cross and resurrection. And this message effected every part of their new lives, and new community.
And, we see that as the early church lived their lives in this new way, that God used them to draw others near to himself so that they too might experience the deep joy of relationship with Him through Jesus. And we pray that God would also ‘add to our number daily, those who are being saved.’
“The Christian community demonstrates the effectiveness of the Gospel. We are the living proof that the gospel is not an empty word but a powerful word that takes men and women who are lovers of self and transforms them by grace through the Spirit into people who love God and others. We are the living proof that the death of Jesus was not just a vain expression of God’s love but an effective death that achieved the salvation of a people who now love one another sincerely from a pure heart.” – Tim Chester.
The world is in desperate need of the good news of Jesus, and God is inviting us to partner with Him by embodying our faith as a community of believers, like the church in Acts did, so that all might come to know the one true God who brings life in abundance.