The story of the first church in Acts is an amazing read; receiving the powerful holy spirit, witnessing to many across the lands, seeing thousands of people come to believe in Jesus. As a group of believers, there’s so much we can learn from the first church when it comes to our Christian friendships, small groups, youth groups or churches; how we can be stronger in our faith and life together, whilst continuing the mission Jesus has set us as His disciples.
They Gathered Together
When Jesus ascended to heaven in the first chapter of Acts, it could have been easy for the disciples to then leave Jerusalem and go back to their families and homes since Jesus was no longer around. But His command to stay and wait for the gift of the holy spirit motivated them to stick around. And from that moment onwards “They all met together and were constantly united in prayer..” – Acts 1:14, “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship,” – Acts 2:42 and “met together in one place” – Acts 2:43.
How often do you meet with those who are your family in Christ? And I don’t just mean during youth sessions or church services.
As much as they are great opportunities for us to gather as the body of Christ, it’s important to spend as much time as possible together, like the first church, to pray, praise, encourage each other in the things of God and generally be a part of each others’ lives. One way me and my Christian friends do this is through food: Sunday afternoons are reserved for lunch, getting outside of the church walls and sharing our lives and laughs together.
Gather with your group outside of your normal context, I guarantee it will strengthen your relationships and your faith as you meet with each other and God.
They Shared Everything
When the first church gathered together, no one was left needy. What was theirs, was yours. In Acts 4, it says that the believers “felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had.” “There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them” – Acts 4: 32 & 34.
In the next chapter, it tells the powerful story of a man and wife who did not share all they had, lied about it and were struck down because of their heart’s attitude!
It’s a stark example, but generosity should flow from our hearts, especially to the family of God. The believers were not asked by the apostles to give, but they saw a need in their community and decided to act upon it. Whether someone in your youth group or church does speak out in need, or doesn’t speak out but you know they are needing help, act on it. As God has so abundantly blessed us with much that we might take for granted, we should pour out blessing onto our friends or congregation.
Prayer Was First
Whenever a moment of crisis or decision faced the early church, it always included and usually began with prayer together: When choosing new leaders and a new apostle to replace Judas (Acts 1 & 6), sending out believers (Acts 13) and when suffering severe persecution (Acts 4, Acts 13, Acts 16). In the midst of challenging times in the beginning of the church, they immediately turned to God.
How often, when difficult circumstances come, do we automatically and firstly turn to God, instead of worry, doubt, disappointment or anger? And also call our nearest to join with us in prayer? When “two of you on earth agree about something you are praying for, my Father in heaven will do it for you. Whenever two or three of you come together in my name, I am there with you.” – Matthew 18: 19-20 CEV
Let’s “encourage one another and build each other up” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV, as the believers in the early church did. Let’s continue growing our faith and expanding God’s kingdom as they did. We stand on the shoulders on our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who began this monumental journey almost two thousand years ago, so let’s go forward together!