Last week saw the beginning of that as many people of different nationalities came to believe in the message Peter declared - the message that Jesus was alive. What did these hundreds and hundreds of people do next? They heard the call to believe, to repent (change their minds) and to be baptised, and they responded with enthusiasm. But what was life like for them next?
What did they do?
This little part of Acts (link: chapter 2:42-47) shows us a little of how they lived. Verse 42 especially tells us about 4 things they were really devoted to - things they made a priority above anything else.
Verse 42: They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
1. The Apostles' teaching - learning
The apostles were the ones who had been with Jesus before his death and resurrection so they knew the things he had taught. So the new believers were desperate to know all about this one they had decided to follow. You can imagine them saying... 'what did he say?', 'tell us about him', 'we want to what he said we should do'. And Jesus had explained how the whole Old Testament all pointed to him, so there would have been lots to teach. The people wanted to learn. They were devoted to what we now have in our bibles, and they were in awe of what they heard (v43)
2. Fellowship - belonging
This is much more than meeting together in a general way. This is all about being together as a family, having a common life, being a team, serving together, being together. This was so important for these first believers - they wanted to be together and share life - which they did, radically, wherever one of them had need. A great generosity and love (v44,45).
3. Breaking of Bread - remembering
They made a habit of eating together and remembering the death of Jesus as they did so, just as Jesus had instructed the disciples at the Last Supper, the night before going to the cross. They ate (another expression of the shared life) and made a point of keeping Jesus' death for them, right at the centre of everything. They were never going to forget the cross. (v46)
4. Prayer - depending
Emphasising prayer shows great dependence on God. When we don't pray, its because we are living our lives independently of God and think we don't need him. That's why people often turn to pray in extreme situations - because they know they are dependent on something higher and beyond themselves at that moment. But the reality is we are dependent on God for everything, and that's why we need prayer. These guys knew that, and so were devoted to prayer. They were passionate about their relationship with God. And as they prayed and praised, they saw God at work. (v47)
We spent some time thinking about what happens when one of these is missing from church life. A church community that moves away from the apostles' teaching, from common life together, from the cross, from prayerful dependence... what happens if one of these is neglected or abandoned?