“The Acts 2 Church”
Every pastor, leader, and Christian can point to chapter 2, verses 42-47 and boldly claim this is what we want. “To be together, praying together, eating together, without need because of our selflessness with one another, teaching the scriptures and seeing God move together”…It accelerates my adrenaline level by simply reading it aloud!
The passage seems to breath a brilliant breath of fresh air into an often dead and hypocritical body (the church). It is no surprise to anyone inside or outside of the church that instead of an Acts 2:42-47 church we often instead experience a disjointed people who are only in close proximity as we shake hands during Sunday morning’s service. Forget praying together, we rarely eat together. In fact the only time we really eat with one another is when one of the pastors takes us out to lunch in hopes of recruiting us as one of their volunteers (I’m guilty)!
Unfortunately the church often winds-up as everything but the guts of this passage in Acts, which is why it has become so pivotal for the people of God. It gives us hope in the thick of hierarchy and promise in the middle of the plethora of people problems found among the pews.
The best part of the passage however comes last….“and they added to their number daily those who were being saved.”: The growth of God’s people! The wave of His spirit we call the Church that continues to grow and move, and restore the world.
Now what’s so wild about this is that we always chalk up this daily numerical growth to the beautiful unity of the first church. In our discontentment with our current communities we look at the first church, its unity, selflessness, and dedication to the teachings of scripture, and claim that if we care to see the same type of supernatural growth, we must start replicating that same type of community.
Yet we often miss something stunning in our attempts to duplicate the awe-inspiring church in those days. Acts 2 begins with Pentecost, the spiritual melting pot of church history. In this city at this specific time there were Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome(both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs. All were in Jerusalem, and all were unified around the spirit speaking the same language through them. Now For some reason, we read this riveting piece of church history filled with tongues of fire, claims of drunkenness, and crazy conversions and we get so exhausted by the supernatural gap between then and now that we take a skeptic filled sigh of relief that this confusing and somewhat irrelevant section of the scripture is finished and move on to 42-47 like normality picked up a few days later.
But this isn’t the case. Chapter 2:42-47 and the unity of the church begins immediately after the Pentecost conversion, and it is a unity birthed out of the most diverse group of people living in the Spirit of God together. This means that the Acts 2:42-47 church was not just unified, but drastically diverse.
Do you hear that? The diversity of Pentecost and those from different languages now speaking the same, were the group of gatherers that made up this Acts 2 church that we all strive to re-create. And the thought then crosses my mind. Could it be that more and more people were drawn to and than converted to the first church not solely because of the groups selflessness, or the daily breaking of the bread, or even the teachings of Christ that were so compelling… But potentially because of the fact that for the first time since the tower of Babel, different tribes and different tongues were literally one in Spirit, moving together, celebrating together, and living unified together?
My gut says that a mutli-ethnic, multi-cultural, “Acts 2 church” is not some trendy topic that looks really good on church websites, but was instead a countercultural key to all those looking in, who would be so blown away by a Spirit soaked, diverse unity, that they would soon drop everything they were doing in order to be the ones on the inside looking out.
Unity among diversity preaches a brilliant gospel!