Warning: The content of this blog is in no way intended to offend. You are about to read observations made humbly and carefully from God’s Word. Don’t shoot the messenger. The thoughts and views expressed by the author don’t matter, unless, he is speaking for Someone who does matter.
Please, read to the end. I have had to confess much lately. Our youth ministry is currently studying the doctrine of the church. It’s beautiful, and it’s scary. Now, I’m about to ask a question, and then I’m going to attempt to answer that question with basic conclusions from a text Scripture.
Why does it seem like church is optional? “It’s not!” you say. Well, unless you choose sports over it. Unless you talk like Lord’s Day is another day to plan family events. Unless you are tempted to skip out because life was busy that week, and God will understand, and anyway, you could just read your Bible at home (right after Good Morning America, of course). Come on, look around you this Sunday morning, note who’s there occasionally, note your own consistency. In America, church commitment is absolutely undeniably an option.
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Let me give context. This is a description of the people who were converted when Peter preached at Pentecost under the power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit came upon the apostles (Acts 2:4) just as Jesus had predicted (Acts 1:8), and Peter preached. Pentecost was the fuse that lit the explosion of the church throughout all the regions Jesus predicted. These people who were converted at Pentecost, the members of the first church, prioritized certain things. Why, in the American church, is church optional? Because unlike the first church, we don’t:
Love the Word and Doctrine
they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching…
These people assembled because the Word and doctrine were preached. This doctrine of the apostles could be summarized very simply: Jesus is the Christ, Jesus died to fulfill a righteous requirement, Jesus rose again to give life to those dead in their sins. The gospel. We don’t commit ourselves to the preaching of the gospel because we don’t commit ourselves to preaching at all. And, if we don’t commit ourselves to where the Word is preached, we will not commit ourselves to the church. If we love the Word we will love the church.
Love the brotherhood and the body
And they devoted themselves to… fellowship,
If I say I love my wife and I make 3 hours for her a week, once Sunday, once Wednesday, I mean, on a good week, you would call that a recipe for divorce. I love her, though! Stop judging me. I mean I give her 3 hours, do I really have to show up and see her every time she’s home? I love her! Seriously, I even show up occasionally when she asks me for a work-day. I love her. I bring her all my troubles, and then I criticize her to my friends every once in a while, but I mean, who doesn’t? No spouse is perfect. I love her!
That’s ridiculous. And that’s exactly how we treat church. It’s a recipe for separation. Don’t say you love the people there if they’re not worth your time, effort, and investment. If you love the church, you’re invested, it’s pretty simple actually. I’m not saying “there all the time,” I’m saying all there when you’re there, and all there with people outside it. Stop equating high expectations for church commitment to legalism. Jesus has a pretty high expectation. He died for it.
People in the church spend time with people in the church. Acts 2 people anticipate gathering, not dread it.
Tangent Alert, ignore if you wish: Everyone says they want an Acts 2 church, remarkably few of those people sell what they have in order to give to those who are less fortunate. Most Christians today call activity like that “reckless.” Be careful what you wish for, or what you say you wish for. You might just be held accountable, and maybe you should be.
Love Spiritual disciplines and Fellowship
And they devoted themselves…to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
The point here is not that they were devoted eating meals together, and made sure that they prayed before every potluck. The implication is that they devoted themselves to disciplined methods of worship. They were devoted to intentional public prayer, as well as assembled seasons of prayer. They also committed themselves to remembering Christ, either by means of communion or meeting together just to be together.
Acts 2 people love being with other Acts 2 people so that they can do Acts 2 things.
Question: Why is church optional?
Answer: It’s pretty simple, if you’re not full of the Spirit, you’re full of the flesh, and Spirit things aren’t alive in you. These things take place when people are embracing the power of the Spirit.
Therefore, churches that don’t do these things for these reasons, are full of people who aren’t full of the Spirit. Embrace the Spirit, because only then will we experience the limitless potential of the gospel, and of the church.