How many of our churches look exactly like the portrait of the church in Acts 2? I suspect your church, like mine, is very different in lots of ways. Some of that is to do with the unique situation of the church there, with vast numbers of believers being added in a short space of time, with the apostles right there teaching the church, with God’s special blessing on them at that time following Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension. Some of Acts 2 is just describing how they were and not necessarily implying we should be identical to them. This was clearly a unique time in God’s purposes and in God’s church. However there are vital principles here that can teach us about what we value as Christians and how we behave together as God’s people.
One such vital aspect is their desire to be together as God’s people, in fellowship with one another. Verse 46 tells us that ‘every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts,’ but they also met together in homes, sharing meals. This meeting together was formal, probably joining in with regular times of prayer and blessing at the temple (as in Acts 3:1) but also informal in each other’s homes. It was also frequent, every day, so it doesn’t sound like it was a chore or just a duty to them. They met with glad and sincere hearts (v47) as they praised God together. Meeting together, being in the same place not only for formal worship, but informal fellowship was obviously a huge part of what it meant to follow Jesus.
Part of the body
Our situation might be very different to the believers in Acts 2. Other responsibilities in our lives might mean we couldn’t meet together daily but the principle of the importance of Christians being part of a living, vital body is a good challenge to us. For you, is the church somewhere you go or is it who you are? In other words, is it just a place you attend once in a while, or is it a living body of which you are a vital part? If you are a Christian, you are part of Christ’s body and you need other believers.
Paul uses the analogy of the church as a body in 1 Corinthians 12 and there he says that no part should exclude itself because it is not the same as others. Neither can any part reject another because it is different from them. All the parts are needed for the body to be whole. When one part suffers (no matter how small), the whole body suffers. Anyone who has stubbed their little toe knows the reality of this painfully well! When one part rejoices, the whole body is blessed.
After the enforced separation of Covid regulations, it has been hard for some to return to ‘normal’ fellowship and worship together with brothers and sisters. Maybe the anxiety of being in large groups has persisted. Maybe it is just easier to listen to services online with no real involvement or commitment, but the example of the church at the end of Acts 2 ought to remind us that there is great joy and blessing to be had in being together, sharing our lives together and sharing our burdens together. We need the encouragement because there is always plenty to discourage us and draw us away from Christ. It is good and pleasant to live together in unity with our brothers and sisters in the church (Psalm 133). It is objectively a good thing (so we ought to do it) but it also a pleasant experience (so the more we do it, the more we will love it). To cap it all, when we share our lives like this, ‘there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life for evermore (Ps. 133:1).’