Thursday, September 22, 2016
I saw this picture with its statement on Facebook and was intrigued. I wondered if we would really desire membership in that specific congregation, at least for the first forty years of its existence? I recognize that the woman didn’t actually want to be in the Acts 2 church as it was in Acts 2 through 28, but rather in the 21st century interpretation of it! Let’s put ourselves in the Acts 2 church on Pentecost 30 – 70 A.D.
In spite of the apostles being miraculously inspired, culture robbed them in understanding that Jesus’ great commission also covered the Gentiles (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-49)! Because of the church’s blinding racism, Gentiles were forced to remain in an unsaved state for a decade or more. Would we want to be a part of that kind of thinking today? The Acts church was overwhelmed with it. Come to think of it, most churches and their schools were racist in practice until just a few decades ago!
The Acts 2 church never took up a collection for the building fund, never purchased property for or built one, never had a church baptistery, pews, pulpit, or table with “In Remembrance of Me” inscribed on it. They never heard of communion ware, Welch’s Grape Juice or Matzah Bread. Everything we commonly see on Sunday morning, in what we designate as an auditorium or sanctuary, did not cross their sight. They didn’t “go to church.” They assembled temporarily in the Temple Women’s Court, due to another cultural taboo, as well as in homes. There is no indication that the Sunday morning assemblies started with “an order of worship” beginning with an opening prayer and an hour later, ending that order with a closing prayer. They met in their homes where breaking bread took place and more likely the other activities mention in Acts 2:42. Miraculous healing as well as preaching was done at the temple and in the house assemblies. When persecution disrupted the Temple court assemblies, the home ones continued (Acts 2:46-47). Saul of Tarsus probably interrupted many of those house assemblies (Acts 9:1-2).
Since Sunday was a work day, following Saturday’s Sabbath day off, the meetings on that first day of the week appeared to be a “come and go” activity (Acts 5:1-11). Instead of men passing the collection plate, individuals walked to the one in charge and laid their contribution at his feet (Acts 4:34-36; 5:2). If needed, the one in charge could question the giver concerning his contribution. Even questions were asked of the women and there was an expected reply desired! If any problems arose, the membership could assemble to solve it with a vote (Acts 6:1-6). The brethren met daily, not just twice on Sunday and once on Wednesday (Acts 2:46). Miraculous healings (tending to the sick) was an assembly activity (Acts 2:43). Distribution of their needy closet was part of their assembly where needy members were encouraged and edified by the love expressed (Acts 2:45). Their house assemblies were spent in breaking bread, eating together, and praising God (Acts 2:46-47). This brought them praise and additions every day (Acts 2:47). If we wish to be in a book of Acts church, wouldn’t we need to recognize what they considered to be important?
Would the first century Acts 2 church find our assemblies too restrictive and too limited because of our focus on time, fashion, comfort, and unnecessary details?