I’m going to start by being controversial. I do not like church being described as ‘family’. For all the same reasons as I don’t agree with celebrating Mother’s Day, the entirely secular construct, in church, I don’t think family is always a particularly helpful metaphor to borrow. Also, I have a family already, I do not need another one! I think community is a much better idea of what we are together as a church.
However, just to be contrary, on this occasion, I can live with it! Because here, it is quite clear that the church was living as like family to one another.
Acts 2:42-47 (CEV)
42 They spent their time learning from the apostles, and they were like family to each other. They also broke bread and prayed together.
Life among the Lord’s Followers
43 Everyone was amazed by the many miracles and wonders that the apostles worked. 44 All the Lord’s followers often met together, and they shared everything they had. 45 They would sell their property and possessions and give the money to whoever needed it. 46 Day after day they met together in the temple. They broke bread together in different homes and shared their food happily and freely, 47 while praising God. Everyone liked them, and each day the Lord added to their group others who were being saved.
Unlike us, they were clearly spending all their time together, sharing together, learning from one another, praying and worshipping together.
We have lost so much of this. We live largely individualistic lives, coming together for an hour on Sunday and maybe a couple of events during the week. We are not living as a Christian community as they were. I wonder what we have lost?
Would our lives and faith be enhanced by living together more closely? Day by day sharing everything we have? Caring so closely for one another, that we didn’t just know each others every need but responded to it? Praying and worshipping together so regularly, it was like breathing together?
I am as guilty as the next person of keeping myself to myself, not sharing, holding back – partly because experience has taught me it is not safe to do so, from being let down or ‘news’ being inappropriately shared; and partly… why? Because I like my own space? Find the needs of other oppressive? Like things my way rather than others? Like to keep what I have to myself? Some of those more than others, but it is a question worth asking ourselves.
Do I long for the kind of life and church style the early church had? Or is it my worst nightmare? Would church be better if we did it this way? Was it a particular model for a particular time? How would, could and should it look today where I am? To me this passage is a genuine challenge – what do you think?
Whatever my answers, I can’t help but look at verse 47! If that is what we long for our churches today, what are we going to do, what am I going to do, to make them living communities of faith that people see the vitality and attraction of, find God in them and want to join – not to boost numbers but that we all may find a deeper relationship with God?
Thank you Lord
for tall those
who love you
and live for you.
Forgive me the times
I have preferred
to live my faith alone,
keep myself to myself
and hold back
from sharing with others.
Heal the hurts
that make me wary
of getting close
and letting others in,
to find a way
to live in sharing,
in support of one another,
that makes people see you
and share themselves
we may find
a deeper relationship with you