Thoughts to Ponder from Acts 2:42-43
Acts 2:42-43 (ESV)
The Fellowship of the Believers
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.
When was the last time you were awestruck? I know throughout my life there have been moments that have taken my breath away because of being so awestruck. I remember in my youth I would stare up into the sky, whether it be day or night, and I would just have this overwhelming sense of awe because I knew that I was looking beyond what I could see. I may not have known God at that point in my life, but I knew that there was something much bigger that went even beyond what I could see.
Isn’t that the way it is, though, when we have an encounter with the mysterious Other? There are those moments throughout our lives where God reveals himself in a way that transcends the ordinary and mundane. There are moments, where like Moses, God allows us to see that glimpse of the trail of his glory, and it is life altering. Those moments can’t be planned, scheduled or anything else.
You see, in order to have those moments, you have to truly be walking with God. In fact, I would go so far as to say, the closer we walk with God, the more we will stand in awe of the mysterious One because we truly begin to recognize just who God is and how undeserving we are of the tremendous love, mercy, and grace God has given us.
However what does all of this have to do with our passage in Acts? The fledgling church had just been empowered by the Holy Spirit and this Jesus movement was beginning to catch fire and draw attention. But how do you disciple new converts? The answer for the early church was easy: stick to what you know to be true. The early church knew that it was by the faithful witness of the apostles that the truth of the Good News could become a tangible reality. These were the ones who were the first hand witnesses of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. For the apostles, there was no doubt about who this Jesus was. Thus, the early church was committed to learning from the teachings of the disciples so that they could better grow to understand the Who that was behind their faith and the redemption that they now received.
Fellowship was also necessary to disciple people. However, fellowship wasn’t what we see it as in the modern church. Fellowship was coming together to learn from one another about the faith. It was a gathering together of believers in order to uplift, encourage, admonish and teach one another. You see, the early church knew you couldn’t learn the truth of the faith, the truth of the Gospel in a vacuum. You needed to be surrounded by like-minded people who were all striving for the same thing: Christian perfection so that in the end, they could inherit eternal life.
The early church also realized that there was power in the Eucharist, the breaking of Bread together. This was something that Jesus himself had commanded them to do and they knew that when they broke bread together, God was in their very presence in a very real, tangible way. They realized that Communion was necessary spiritual food that helped make them true participants in the passion and suffering of Christ. They knew the Table was the earthly reality of God with us and it was something they did as often as they gathered together.
The early church prayed together. Prayer is that absolute baring of the soul before God, and the early church did this collectively for the knew that it was in prayer that the church was allowed to entered into the deepest inner sanctum of the Holy of Holies, being lifted into the presence of God.
Why are all of these things important and what does this have to do with awe? You see, all of these things were meant to not only teach people more about this Jesus, this Divine God that they professed. All of these things deepened the relationship of the church WITH God by drawing them into the presence and reality of God himself. In other words, through teaching, fellowship, Communion, and prayer, people were brought into the deepest of spiritual presence with the God of their salvation. And as they drew deeper into God’s presence, the more they stood in awe of this God.
You see, isn’t that the way of things? The closer you come to God, the more you are overwhelmed by a sense of “otherness.” We realize that there is something far bigger than ourselves and we realize that it is by grace we are even remotely allowed to stand in God’s presence. But the more we are in the presence of this One, the more we long to be closer and deeper into his presence. Why? Because at the end of the day, our hearts truly do long for and crave the love, holiness and righteousness that is God because we are too overwhelmed by the darkness of this world. Once you taste of God, the more you want because you know He truly is the way of life.
Yet there is something else to be learned from this passage. The more we are infused with God, the more it plugs us into the power of the Holy Spirit and when we have that power of God in us, we are able to do the very things that Jesus said we would: we are given the power to bring life from death, hope from despair – true transformation from darkness to Light. You see, when we read stories of the apostles, they were able to speak in the name of Jesus, and people were healed. Their shadow would fall on a lame man, and the power of Jesus made that man walk. The Church has been given a tremendous power to deliver the world from the grips and power of sin and death, but we cannot do it ourselves. We must have a fully committed, devoted faith, that is plugged in to God and one another, empowered by the Holy Spirit, constantly growing, hungering, striving for that Holiness that God has called us to. As we draw closer to God, that love infuses us until it pours out of us and into the world around us, affecting real change…not some superficial emotionalism – but a change that has true, eternal consequences.
When we read this passage, we must be suspect of anyone who says they do not need the church to be a “Christian.” This passage in Acts reminds us that God is found, taught, and grown, in community. It is only in a Body of Christ, infused by the Holy Spirit, truth and life are found.