Saturday, March 28

Recipe for Revival: Living the Life

An anonymous visitor reminds me that it's one thing to talk about why we need to go on to know the Lord, and not merely presume our eternal future on a past moment. Where it gets really sticky is when we ask what we should, or can, do with that information. The whole Bible covers a time frame, not including predictions, of at least 4,000 years, up until about 1900+ years ago. Daily life has stayed about the same all through the Biblical stretch, and really until the past hundred fifty years, when the Rugged Individualist became the model for our society. What's all this about? The Old Testament is written for a people who lived together, sharing the same covenant, as a nation, with God. God's flock. The New Testament was written for a people who gathered together, sharing the same covenant, as a Body, with God. Again, God's flock. Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice.” The Church today is a scattered flock with a lot more in common with rock goats than sheep of His pasture, showing up maybe once a week for a twenty-minute “feeding,” and then off we go to our own favorite rocks.

How do we grow? How do we live a Christian life like the Bible talks about? What means has God given us so we can? Let's look back to the New Testament, to the second chapter of Acts, verse 40 & following.

And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

The first key here is simply that the people who were joined to the Church saw that there was something very wrong with the world they had been part of, and they didn't want to share its fate. This was about like a fish in the lake realising it is wet. The Holy Spirit was involved in this!

And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul,

As a result of continually learning about Jesus, getting to know each other and seeing God's work in each other's lives, and in communing together with the Lord in the Holy Communion and in prayer, their lives were marked with the awe of God's presence,

and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.

Miracles became commonplace, and the most notable miracle was that the Believers loved each other “as more worthy than themselves” so that they could not bear to see a brother or a sister suffer need. Investments were sold off to make sure the poor were cared for. Christ's Body was of more value to them than their own possessions!

And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Worship became a way of life. God's joy so filled them that people were glad to see them coming, and the Church was growing, not just by a dozen or so on Membership Sunday, but continually, day by day.

The First Church had a number of things going for it that we need to take hold of.

1.They saw that “going with the flow” of the world around them was not a healthy choice.
2.They identified with the people of God.
3.They allowed the Holy Spirit to implant His Truth in their hearts through Gospel teaching.
4.They allowed the Holy Spirit to join their hearts to others whom He had placed alongside them.
5.They allowed the Holy Spirit to renew their souls with the sacraments.
6.They allowed the Holy Spirit to live through their spirits in prayer.
7.They allowed the Holy Spirit to have His way in every aspect of their lives, not “just the church stuff.”

We notice also that a major part of the picture was that they continued on in the worship at the Temple, so breaking off from our current churches to “start a new work” is not necessarily a good idea. But what can we do to make the change from being a gaggle of stray goats who show up on the odd Sunday, provided the “feeding” is short, sweet, and convenient, to a flock- no, a Body- who knows God's love, and lives it, with each other, as a daily way of life? If the Jerusalem Church allowed Jesus so be their joy, and they enjoyed the new life He gave them to the point that thousands were being saved and added to their number, and we are clinging to our comforts and conveniences and seeing our own children leaving the Faith at a rate of over 80% with virtually nobody being “added to the Church,” just what price are we paying for those “conveniences?”


So what's your take?