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Saturday, September 21, 2019
Baptist Church

I Saw The Church

Thursday, September 01, 2016 View Comments Comments (0)
44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.   Acts 2:44-

Several years ago studies were conducted among former American prisoners of war to determine what methods used by the enemy had been most effective in breaking their spirit. Their findings revealed that the soldiers did not break from physical deprivation and torture as quickly as they did from solitary confinement or from disrupted friendships caused by frequent changing of personnel. Attempts to get the prisoners divided in their attitudes toward one another proved to be the most successful method of discouraging them. It was further learned that the soldiers were not sustained primarily by faith in their country or by the rightness of the cause for which they fought. They drew their greatest strength from the close attachments they had formed to the small military units to which they belonged.

While I was working with disaster relief teams in Louisiana, it was amidst the trash heaps hauled to the road by those displaced by the devastating floods that I beheld a marvelous sight – I saw the church. Oh I drove past several buildings with steeples on them, but that’s not where I saw the church. I saw the church as I looked at a woman who drove all the way from Indiana to help clean up debris and then sleep in her mini-van at night. I saw the church as daily cleaning supplies, diapers, clothes and food were dropped off at the gymnasium of a church building, and it was the church that sorted, fed and distributed to those in need. I saw the church as people from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Indiana, New York, and California covered in sheet rock dust and debris sat together eating after a hard days work and encouraged each other with laughter and love. There was a togetherness amongst this small group of people that could not be explained any other way apart from a common relationship with Jesus Christ. I heard one pastor comment as we were eating, “If this is what happens when disaster strikes, perhaps all of the United States needs to be flooded.”

This picture I paint for you of the church isn’t the first one ever to be seen. Matter of fact the first recorded glimpse we have of the church is in Acts chapter 2 where we read in v.42 that 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. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

To see the Church one would think you needed to be in a worship service on Sunday, but that view of the church limits fellowship to mere attendance. That view of fellowship is more like a jar of marbles where everyone is in the same jar bumping into one other but having little impact on each other’s lives. I believe fellowship is more like a jar of grapes that bleed on one another. In Biblical fellowship our faith should rub off on each other. The first believers had real spiritual needs that drew them into fellowship with others who had the same needs and naturally they bled on one another.

What I saw and experienced in the hot Louisiana sun was warm, loving, Christ honoring fellowship. Too often church attendance turns us into iceberg Christians where we just float around and bump into one another. I like what one visitor to a church had to say of his experience, “I don’t want to say that it was a cold church, but I did notice the ushers were wearing ice skates.” I realize you can’t have fellowship without being together, but I also understand there is a big difference between attendance and togetherness.

One things that drew people together was a sense of responsibility for each other. Did you notice it said they were, “Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.”These offerings were coming from those who had “glad and sincere” hearts. No one could bear to have too much while others had too little. This was a part of their worship – not some inside bulletin cover on Sunday, but at the heart and core of their worship they were responding to God by responding to each other. Again I want to remind you that it wasn’t just their physical needs that drew them together but it was their understanding of God’s love which made a new life possible. It wasn’t the result of their behavior because they had just finished nailing God to the cross. Their response in worship was due to the power of God. Hearts were responding to God’s presence. Their worship was a result of being drawn to God through the effect of the cross. They were confident that Christ lived and died so they could be free from sin. This was the drawing power of the occasion.

A sincere fellowship is always attractive. Attractiveness is the natural quality that flows from a genuine fellowship. People want to know the source of it all. Luke records that they “praised God and had favor with all the people.” There were no arguments over names, formulas, creeds, rituals or tradition; it was just a simple heartfelt response to God and one another. No argument over the kind of music, or the order of worship, or which church to join. There is attractiveness about this spirit. In fact, it was there that others saw the attractiveness of the fellowship of the first believers. It was that attitude that brought others into a relationship with God. It was here that we see the first believers unified, magnified and multiplied. It was a powerful testimony to the unsaved. The risen Lord continued his ministry from heaven and people continued to be saved. Because day by day they were seeing the church.

Let’s be the visible church of Jesus Christ today.

david ><({‘>


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