In preparing for a discussion group in the fall on the early years of the church, I have been looking over the Book of Acts. I see that the apostles went through a time of persecution that would have been very disheartening, were it not for the excitement of seeing God working as the church grew. They obviously came through that dangerous and difficult time with much prayer and group support. I am learning much that speaks to us as our churches fail and close.
Acts is an amazing book that has many things to say to us today. The power that transformed the disciples is revealed as the Holy Spirit. It is God Himself transforming people's lives and strengthening the church with His Spirit.
Acts 2:1-2,4a – When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit. (NIV)
It seems from these verses that the early church often met in a house, as that was all that was available.
As we read through Acts, the Spirit of Jesus forges a new location, moving worship from the temple to a house or other place. Acts invites us to see that the Holy Spirit is available both in church buildings and in other buildings available in the neighbourhood. The emphasis is placed fully on our relationship with Jesus' Spirit, not on our location. Are we missing something here? It is the Spirit Who empowers us to serve Jesus in the neighbourhood where we live and work. But often, the location is important, for I do feel that a house or local building in the neighbourhood welcomes the stranger more easily than many church buildings, for the situation is usually more relaxed and friendly.
Acts challenges us to be a loving community even when most of our culture is against Christianity. We are more relaxed and happy in a loving community of faith in God and trust in the leadership of the Holy Spirit. In Acts we see the entire process. First, we introduce Jesus as the One Who calls us into a loving companionship. Second, we introduce the Holy Spirit to encourage those who feel neglected and hurt. Third, we introduce and invite strangers to a spiritually enlightened community meeting in a church building or in a house where Jesus is worshipped and all are loved.
We need to share this great news of Jesus' presence with the stranger as we meet with them whether they are in our homes or in our church buildings. The church is a loving community of God's people gathered to worship Him. The building is secondary. No more worry, friends! We are in God's hands as He directs us everywhere to share the love of Christ.
Prayer: Dear Lord, as we worry today about the future of the church, may we all listen to the truth as stated in the Book of Acts. The Holy Spirit's words strengthen us with the fire of enthusiasm. We belong to a loving fellowship that walks with Jesus through life. Lord, may Your Spirit fall upon all who read this as we lay our spirits at Your throne of grace and are renewed through the Holy Spirit. Help us, O Lord, to open our hearts to the stranger. May we be a loving, Christ-filled group. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "Are You Coming To Jesus Tonight" (Lyrics)