42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 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, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Acts 2 is where we find the launch of the church. Peter and the disciples preached with flames over their heads in the power of the Holy Spirit. The response was thousands putting faith in the risen Jesus. You might say the entire experience was “lit.” Sorry, the pun was irresistible. The church launched with quite the show. People were amazed at the miracle that took place when people heard the message in their own language.
Luke’s description in Acts of the first days of the church describes these new believers gathering in community. They weren’t just in each other’s presence, they were committed to the apostles teaching. We have their teaching recorded in the New Testament. They prayed together, they shared resources, they ate together, and so on. They did all of this together, that is to say they were in community.
This picture seems idealistic in so many ways. But think about it, it was the infancy of a movement that would literally change the world for the rest of history. It probably was idealistic. Yet, as we read the rest of the New Testament we realize that community is actually hard. It wasn’t long and there was division and fracturing in the early church. Many of the epistles are written to churches where the sense of unity and community was being threatened by sin, false teaching, and other things.
Even if these things seem idealistic and aspirational, they are thing things we must strive for. Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book Life Together says, “He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.”
What can you do to protect and strive for a Biblical community?