Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Acts Church

The "Acts" church is often spoke of and preached about, and emulated, because of the great success the early church had in adding thousands (even in one day) to the flock. The description used most often is Acts 2:42-47, where the community devoted themselves to these things- the apostles' teaching, the fellowship, communion, prayer, everything in common, meeting daily in the temple courts, and meeting in their homes, and praising God. And God- did miraculous signs and wonders and added to their numbers everyday.

Let's note that the scripture before and after this is a 3rd person narrative, complete with a timeline of events. It reads like a daily blog of what was happening. Peter did this; then this happened; one day Peter and John... ; while the beggar did this; Peter said this; etc. And right in the middle of this 'narrative' is this little picture of the church that is NOT in a timeline narrative. Most bibles put it in it's own paragraph. Some even indent it since the style completely changes for these 7 verses, before returning to the 3rd person narrative story line. The narrator (Luke) stops his narrative and gives us a snapshot of this ideal community of God. What I want to note now is what is NOT mentioned in these verses about an ideal church. (I'll be careful...)

Not said is: "and all the people planted their seed offerings", "they named it and claimed it", "they had their Best Life Now", "and the people picked out a needy ministry to serve in from the weekly bulletin", "and the worship team was excellent". Enough?

Now, these verses are a narrative. Luke switches from an actual timetable of events where he is talking about specific people, to talking about everyone together (They) and time is basically standing still as he is describing the church..."They devoted themselves...and God did this...". But if I may for a minute call it a 'poem', (in that we know there were some difficulties in the early church, troubles with the care of widows, not to mention all the Epistles written to correct people.) So Luke's poem allows us to see a vision of the perfect church. And what do we see?

The people were absolutely immersed in the Gospel. Drenched in it, slaves to it, filled to the point of running over, deeply committed to everything the Gospel called them to, bathed in it, saturated in it, and sold out to it. (And God did His thing, too.) And since this early time, people have tried to help God and add to what God is doing- more ministry, more worship teams, more books, more ways to pray, more tricks and promotions to "grow the flock". Are these things wrong? Not necessarily, when they are used as another way to drench us in the Gospel. But inventions by men are just simple powerless devices. God uses only the Gospel to attract, convict, justify, and transform. That's all He needs. We need to stay out of His way, and just obey and live the Gospel. God will do the rest. Francis Chan asks us if we can pray Proverbs 30:7-9 in this 2 minute video. It might rate us on all of the above.

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