In the life of the early church, in the time just after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, and the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost, the disciples had to work out a new way of life. People were coming to faith in Jesus all the time, and needed to know what it meant for them, how they now should live.
And so they spent their time together. No one was left to work it out alone, the lived it together.
They learnt from the apostles, those who had been with Jesus during his life on earth, who had walked with him, seen what he did, heard what he said. They were the ones who were now key in passing on what they had discovered about God to others – and they in turn wanted to hear it and to learn.
But they didn’t just come and go in each others lives, they also shared meals together and they prayed together. As they learnt what was happening in each others lives, they were able to turn that to prayer – and also to practical help.
They shared what they had among themselves. They supported each other. They knew each other well enough to know what the needs of each were, and those needs were met collectively.
We have a great British reserve. We don’t like to let others know if we are in need. It is the ‘done thing’ to struggle on alone. But how much easier would life be if we were able to share our needs, and let others help us meet them – be they practical, emotional or spiritual? That is true sharing and living together in faith. It blesses the ones that give and the ones that receive.
Reading this passage of how the early church lived makes me wonder what we’ve lost, and raises a lot of questions in my mind:
Are we willing to share what we know of God and his way with those who want to know? Or do we like to hold our faith close to us and never share it with anyone?
Do we sit and learn together? Will we listen to what others have discovered about God, and allow it to help us grow?
Can our fellowships become a safe place to share our needs, and know they will be met?
Will we spend time together praising God?
Is this still a realistic vision for the church today? I think it can be, if we’re willing to make it.
What do you think?