Sep 29, 2023
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 favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:46-47)
This week we’ve focused on the horizontal relationships between us as a church, together in faith. But today we return to the reminder that the vertical dimension is where we really hang our hats.
We began this mini-series talking about how the church’s foundation is not really in the Acts 2 church where everyone had everything in common and where the church was growing like crazy. The church’s foundational command and posture comes instead from Acts 1 where we are told to be a church that waits for the work and power of God.
Having dwelt with that idea for a while now—it’s time to come back to the Acts 2 church. This was a church living in response to a work of God through the Spirit. A work they had waited for. The Spirit had blown the refreshing Word and power of God over all of them that Pentecost day through the preaching of Peter. And in response, the church gathered, devoted themselves to this teaching about Jesus and to one another. They prayed, broke bread together, and shared everything in common with generosity and gladness of heart.
Notice that this Acts 2 church is not said to have gone out evangelizing. And yet, the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Did the quality of their life together contribute to the growth of this early church? Certainly! Their generosity, hospitality, gladness, and message was evident to all as they met together openly in the Temple Courts in the name of Jesus. But the Lord is the only one said to be actively at work in the mission fields.
This is a key piece. There are times in the book of Acts that God is gathering people up into a congregation, and there are times, like in Acts 8:1 where God is scattering people away from the church. Growth and numbers and decline are all matters that the church must entrust to God. It is ultimately his Kingdom and his mission. Our calling is to live as witnesses to Jesus who cultivate a life that looks and smells like Jesus. We are to be witnesses who are visibly devoted to God and to one another. We are to be witnesses who live a life together that is supple and responsive to the Spirit’s movements, filled with the Spirit’s fruits of love, joy, peace, and the rest.
But, as Paul writes elsewhere (in 1 Corinthians 3), it is God who gives the increase. Our job is to wait and to witness. Waiting for God’s work and witnessing to God’s way—this is what it means to be a church Together, in Faith.