Adventures in rubbernecking: The New Testament’s original community group.
“All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.” (NLT)
On Saturday, I asked about the successes and failures that we’ve experienced in church-sponsored community groups. You can see that conversation here (comments are now closed).
Now I’ve been chasing after the notion of community through the story of the Early Church and their perception of true community. I’m not one to romanticize them (they were just as messed up as we are), and I understand that some practices in the Bible are merely descriptive, not prescriptive for us today. But I think we would be hard pressed to find an ounce of Acts 2 that is foreign to our current church practices, since the results of Acts 2 birthed the church that we now populate! Take the above passage for example, and allow me to paint from it this picture,
Jesus just rose from the dead, and you can’t do much to contain the adrenaline rush surging through your body. You’re still fresh from grieving over the loss, yet now find your entire life revolving too fast to calculate. You desperately need to process this unusual set of circumstances, so you crash your friend’s house and compare stories well into midnight. Amid mouthfuls of food and wine, you can barely contain your excitement as a few of you recall some Old Testament suggestions that this would all unfold. Every few minutes a fresh, startling announcement causes you all to stop and pray—others break out in song. In another lively corner of the house are a few people who used to hate you, yet are now cordially gathered by the chips and salsa—one must blame the overwhelming effect your friend’s ascension is having on the neighborhood. Your entire block is abuzz. One thing you know; Jesus has risen, and you are in awe.
This is a great story of community—found in my own Bible—and it has my whole modern-day structure in a snafu because what I know of community falls depressingly short of this.
I want to spend a few days looking at different elements of this passage to see how we might be able to weave our lives together with what the New Testament community lived out. But in the meantime…
What immediately stands out to you about this Pentecost-borne community group? Is it possible to replicate this now? Should we try?