Tag Archives: Acts 2:42-47

Family Life

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,
I pray.

Help us,
your people,
to find a way
to live in sharing,
in risk,
in support of one another,
that makes people see you
and share themselves
with you
and us;
that together
we may find
a deeper relationship with you

Welcome to the Family

Living Together

One of the best ways to get to know people is over food.  Sharing a meal together gives a relaxed setting to chat, to take time to listen.

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?