There is something in our nature, that makes us want to build things up. It is not enough for us to live simply. We constantly have to outdo ourselves and we have to outdo others. Increasingly we make life and indeed the world around us more complex with every passing day.
Then life comes crashing down around us and we see that all the things we valued and invested in were nothing more than a house of cards. To survive and even thrive, our needs are very basic. We need security. The knowledge that we can sleep without fear. We need nourishment. We need shelter. We need companionship. And finally, we need God, who provides all our other needs and becomes our source of hope.
With just the barest of provision, the ‘newly born Church’ of the Apostles, not only survived, it thrived. Throughout the Centuries that would follow, this principle was repeated time after time after time. The grim reality is that the more the Church has, the less it thrives. Big buildings and lots of programs have never worked well for Christianity. However, when the Christian faith is reduced to the bare essentials, it thrives and multiplies.
On the Day of Pentecost, when God brought the Church into existence. The Church had no buildings, no programs, no resources and no idea of what to do next. It begins with Peter jumping up in the center of the crowd, preaching a sermon he never prepared and giving an altar call in which over three thousand people respond and get baptized. And that was all in one day.
What happens after that is the basics of Church life. The Early Church is given four things that it needs to survive and to thrive. They needed to feed their souls, get them lifting their hearts to God, encourage them, and get them talking to God. And that is exactly what they did.
In Acts 2:42, we read “For they devoted themselves to the Apostle’s teaching, and to fellowship and the ‘Breaking of Bread’, and to prayer.”
In the space of a few days, life, as we know it in the twenty-first century, has been bought to its knees. A tiny little virus, unseen to the human eye, has invaded our world and bought society to its knees. As part of that, we have lost our ability to gather in our Churches and do Church the way we have always done it before. What do we do?
The answer is simple. We go back to the basics. We do Church like the Apostles taught us in the very beginning. We forget about our programs, our positions, and even our properties. We just do the basics of Church.
The very first thing the Church did, was to apply themselves to the Apostles teaching. The made a priority of understanding the faith they had believed. Now we have a choice, we can turn on televisions and watch hours of mindless rubbish, prepared by godless people. We can spend hours surfing the net looking for ‘funny cat videos’ or we could pick up our Bibles. We could read articles like this, which explain the Bible. We can all grow in our faith and our understanding of Christianity.
Breaking Bread. The Church used the most basic of symbols and daily events to turn their hearts to God. We look at the bread and see our need for Jesus to be able to live. He is our bread of life. We look at a cup and remember that Jesus allowed His blood to be shed for us. And we remember that in doing this, we continue until He returns. In a simple act, we lift our hearts to Heaven.
Fellowship is the next thing on the agenda. Fellowship carries a sense of intimacy with it. It is about taking the time to know others and to be known. It means sharing our hopes, our dreams, and our faults with others. We don’t like talking about our faults, because pride gets in the way. But the reality is that a good friend already knows your faults and accepts you just the same. Why because we all have faults and it is a daily battle to overcome them. When we are honest with ourselves and others, we can have people praying with us as we work through these on our knees with Jesus.
The fourth thing they did was to pray. To laid their hearts bare before God. This was not the ritual of chanted learned words, but believing God hears and answers, they opened up before God.
If we use this gift of time, to study and search our faith and the Scriptures, to lift our hearts in simple worship, to truly encourage one another and to learn to open our hearts before God, then the year 2020, will be the very best year of your life.