Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Spirit Of God Descend"1 (Lyrics)
Acts 2:46 – Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts. (NIV)
I envy the first Christians. Their faith seemed very simple and straightforward. They worshipped and studied the Scriptures each day, and made time to frequently share meals and break bread together. They weren't encumbered with almost two thousand years of ecclesiastical history, denominational divisions, or cultural conflicts. They just simply, purely, and innocently practiced their faith in cheerful, faithful, and joyful ways.
Where did we go wrong? What moved us off the simpler path to Christ? Christians today appear to be constantly divided and deeply entrenched over many issues. Whenever I read something belligerently written by some Christian group, whether they be conservatives or progressives, which berates the other side, I feel badly inside. In the past, I've created and contributed to these self-righteous invectives, but now, I've reached a point where I ask myself these poignant questions: What am I trying to prove? How does my hostility advance Christ's kingdom in the world? What do people outside of the church think of our divisions?
I'd like to get back to those simpler days of sharing the gospel and breaking bread together. I'd like things between all Christians to change positively, so I know that it has to begin with me. I may not get it right all of the time. I hope that I don't wander from the simpler path, but I know that the church — whether local, national, or even international — can't go on beating itself with its own stick. The world is broken, and we need to be healers sent from Christ, but we can do that only if we honestly rid ourselves of our self-sustained prejudices, personal pride, and ineffective arrogance, as well as our self-inflicted wounds and fearful ignorance. The grace of Jesus Christ can be received by the world if we firstly practice God's grace among ourselves.
Questions for reflection: What is the role of the church in the world? How does it present that role in my local community?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we are all sinners saved by Your grace, but sometimes, we forget that we are essentially unworthy and unholy. Redirect our lives and re-position us on a simpler path of faith. Cleanse us of ecclesiastical arrogance, denominational divisions, and cultural conflict. Teach us Your way, so that we can faithfully present Your truth and graciously live Your life. In Your holy name, we humbly pray. Amen.