They (the believers) devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs wede done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. – Acts 2:42-47, NIV
The book of Acts is one of the books that come closest to my heart. Probably because the Old Testament is a bit farther from my personal cultural experience and Revelation simply has too many variables when it comes to interpreting its meaning. Acts, however, speaks at a level I seem to understand easier. Well, anyways. These few verses have been on my mind lately because a few weeks back I was sitting at church on a Sunday, I heard an announcement of a conference and suddenly I thought – It appears that only at conferences we come close to living as it’s described in the quote above.
Now, I say “come close” because even at conferences (at least the ones I’ve attended) it would take quite some effort on a visitor’s side to see the sincere fellowship. That one, which comes to be as a consequence of one’s love for Jesus, not so much because we’re having cookies and coffee and it’s odd not to talk to each other. Perhaps what I’ve experienced so far is cultural – not all cultures have that aspect of immediate intimacy with “strangers”. But then I’d argue – why would that matter – we’re brothers and sisters, not strangers… Or is that just Christian slang?!
I won’t even dig into the financial and material aspects of the passage from Acts. I’ll get too controversial. I would like to focus on the attitude towards these events – the conferences, etc. It appears to me that because conferences are such massive events, long spoken of and lots worked on people attending them are different. When compared to a regular Sunday service the conference shines with: more uplifting music (yet, same lyrics!), more devoted prayer times (go figure!), establishment of new friendships (I suppose at church we can’t get closer friends than we are…), better preaching (yet, from the same old Bible)… And the list goes on.
So, we have the same people (personality-wise), same Bible, same lyrics we sing… just a different location and in different numbers. In this case one might as well call the conference/ congress a social gathering and get it over with. But don’t you dare calling Sunday services so… Have we all become so number and outward-driven believers that when we’re small in number and know each other’s glitches and mis-steps “the fellowship” can’t take place?!
Why do we tend to cry and kneel (before our seats) mostly at conferences? Why do we only clap for all songs at the conferences (well, and lift our hands up all the time of the slow ones)? Why is feet-washing so acceptable at an international conference, but not so in the local church? How come everyone’s attentive to the 45min. sermon at the congress, but can’t wait for the 20min. preaching on regular Sundays to end? Lastly, why in the freakin’ world everyone leaving the conference would say they were uplifted and encouraged in their faith… they worshipped at a brand new level… and this is considered “a special” when it occurs on regular Sundays? Then, of course, we have the fact that a regular church attendant is ready to take an odd 4-5 day vacation and travel to another country to go to church, and that same person can’t find time to travel 30min. to prayer meeting on Wednesday?!
Ah, I suppose I can keep asking questions, but what’s the point if they don’t get answered. Awakening doesn’t take place. And we want revival sweeping throughout – duuh, won’t happen!
P.S. As for the title – what’s described in Acts 2:42-47 seems to be everything but a once-in-4-years-event. Maybe cause they didn’t have the time to prepare one… Who knows! It’s more like daily living, driven by an inner change in the person. I suppose it was the only thing they could do back then.